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Community Organisations Filling the Gap

Community Organisations Filling the Gap

As the welfare and housing reforms are felt in communities, it is the community based social service agencies that are put under increasing stress to fill the gaps. The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) twelfth Vulnerability Report shows housing is harder to access, benefit recipients have reduced, and the numbers of hardship grants for food and power have decreased. At the same time social service agencies are pressured as people seeking support increase.

“One key area of impact has been in housing, with members from across New Zealand reporting pressure going onto their emergency and social housing services”, said Trevor McGlinchey, NZCCSS Executive Officer. “The changes to Housing New Zealand Corporation policies seem to be creating hardship for many people. Our members can no longer keep up with demand, and many of their clients are now turning to boarding houses and low quality, unhealthy private rentals”.

While numbers on benefits have dropped significantly, there is an on-going surge in demand for food parcels and soup kitchen meals. “Some of our members have noted that the increasingly harsh implementation of benefit rules has resulted in longer lines at the foodbanks and the budget advice services”, said McGlinchey. “Many food banks are unable to gather sufficient food to meet demand and are introducing rationing and other strategies to stretch out the supplies they can access”.

“Children continue to suffer as families make difficult decisions about accessing health care, or paying the rent, or power, or buying food”, said McGlinchey. “The complexity of problems faced by families and children has grown. Providers are working with families who have significant trauma in their lives and this takes more time and resources. Yet resources for community organisations have not matched the demand for some time now”.

“It’s time government had extended two-way conversations with community organisations, and actually listened to the constructive advice it receives”, said NZCCSS President, Rod Watts. “A strong and capable community social services sector is needed to assist communities and governments achieve and maintain wellbeing. Government and community organisations need to be supporting each other more effectively than we are at present. The best way to achieve this is through working together – not being told ‘it’s going to be like this’, but actually working out the way forward together”.

Vulnerability Reports will only be published on-line with printable versions downloadable from the www.justiceandcompassion.org.nz website.

ENDS

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