Written By: - Date published: 8:46 am, December 22nd, 2013 - 32 comments
Categories: class war, equality, families, greens, housing, john key, labour, mana-party, poverty, same old national, sustainability, welfare, workers' rights - Tags:
The inequality divide in New Zealand is not the brighter future for all Kiwis that John Key promised back in 2008. It’s a bright future for some, and struggle street for others.
I was planning to post about this article, showing how the summer season is experienced by some of the less well off families.
On Stuff: “Santa’s heartbreaking Christmas wishes”
Robert Fisher, 74, who has been a Santa at Auckland’s Westfield WestCity in Henderson for nine years, said at least half a dozen kids a day asked him for a house because their families were sleeping in cars.
“It’s worse this year than what I can remember,” he said.
Fisher said some children would ask for a happier family.
“There’s nothing I can do. You just try and say ‘what would you like for Christmas and I’ll see what I can do’. I give them a couple of chocolates.”
The Christmas heartache comes as social services report more families than ever are desperate for basic food and housing. The Child Poverty Report, released this month, found one in six children going without basic necessities such as a bed, meal or doctor’s visit.
Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills has called for a child poverty plan to be written into law.
He said child poverty had at least doubled by any measure since he was a child, and that as many as 265,000 children lived in poverty, defined as households with less than 60 per cent of the median income after housing costs.
About 2500 people will attend the Auckland City Mission’s Christmas dinner. Chief executive Diane Robertson said she felt saddened by the increasing number of families asking for help.
The mission had given out 3000 food parcels this December, up from 2400 last year.
Families were not coming for ham, turkey and cakes, she said, but basics such as bread, milk and baked beans.
“There’s been changes in the last few years. We knew families were struggling and coming to us in emergencies, but this is chronic. I can see people are so worn down.”
Christchurch City Missioner Michael Gorman said up to 100 families each day asked for help with a food parcel in December. “We get people coming into us every weekday saying they are desperate for accommodation.”
Families sleeping in cars were stressed because they didn’t know where to enrol their children for school next year, he said.
In Wellington, the Salvation Army was also experiencing high demand.
“The pressure on our families is huge, and housing is a big issue,” Salvation Army territorial social services secretary Pam Waugh said.
I see Paul has linked to this article on open mike, along with a couple of other contrasting articles. He says:
A tale of 2 New Zealanders.
30 years of neo-liberalism and the country is reduced to this.
The revolting rich
Shame on New Zealand for letting this happen.
The first of Paul’s links is about flash cars for the super rich. The second is about a guy who is giving back for the help he got when he was struggling:
A former chef has cooked up a big-hearted scheme to provide free Christmas lunches for the needy.
Solo dad Aaron D’Souza has been overwhelmed by generous offers of donations to his Facebook campaign called Koha Kirihimete Kai – Gift Christmas Food.
D’Souza, from Mangere Bridge, Auckland, said his experiences on the breadline while bringing up his two sons inspired an idea to cook and deliver lunches to less fortunate families.
“My six year old boy Dylan was asking me about the City Mission’s charity Christmas dinner and suggested that we cook a lunch for another family who can’t afford one of their own,” D’Souza, who soon starts work as a food technology teacher, said.
“I intended to do this for one family but we have been offered so much free food, we plan to do a lot more.
“The boys understand we are fortunate compared to some others, and will help me peel the potatoes and prepare the food.”
Thanks to all the people supporting those in need.
However, charity is only ever a band aid, and the medium to long term solution requires both a cultural change from the ground up, and political changes from the government: for instance from the government, worker friendly employment laws; social security provisions that really DO provide social security for all; progressive taxation; affordable housing including more state housing; democratic public service media; economic policies that ensure these things can happen.
Cultural change that ends beneficiary bashing and dividing the “deserving” from the “undeserving” poor; an end to the selfish neoliberal ideology of greed and promotion of the wealthy as producing the wealth for us all; a recognition of how all of the community contributes to the well being of all, whether through paid or unpaid work.
YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!