I don’t give Christmas presents any more. But I do look for places to gift/donate to or support, at what is a difficult time of year for the people on lowest incomes. The City Missions are an obvious and worthy place to donate time, money and/or food and other gifts (I’m not a Christian, but support the good work they do).
The summer holiday period is a time when consumerism is rampant, contradicting the traditional Christian message that Christmas allegedly is about. And it just adds pressure to those already struggling, especially those with young families.
Aucklanders are queuing for up to seven hours for food parcels from the City Mission, as donations run thin.
The waits are only expected to get worse as Christmas nears, with needy families arriving at the mission increasingly desperate.
Auckland city missioner Diane Robertson said people were prepared to wait most of the day because they had nowhere else to go.
“The reality is, we’re quite a way off Christmas, and certainly the numbers coming in are huge.
“For some people it is a wait of six or seven hours to receive a Christmas food parcel. I think it will probably get worse.
“What we’re seeing now is what we would usually see in the last few days before Christmas.”
Everyone who received a food parcel was tested by Work and Income at the mission, Ms Robertson said.
“It’s about numbers being large and it’s also about people being desperate.
“Every single person who comes through here has nowhere else to go … people have exhausted every option before they come here. Believe you me, unless you really had to, you wouldn’t do this.
“I’m looking at our numbers and they’re higher than last year. I just think people live in chronic poverty – economic recovery is certainly not touching these people.”
And, as usual, our government keeps talking up the economy and employment statistics. Here, Frank Macskasy shows why some of the statistics are misleading: The real level of unemployment:
The HLFS stats appear to put a positive, downward ‘spin’ on New Zealand’s unemployment rates. All good news for the current National-led government that is desperate for good news as it faces an election next year – and probable defeat.
However, on 5 December, Roy Morgan released the shock results of an nationwide poll, showing unemployment as well as under-employment much higher than the Household Labour Force Survey has been reporting,
“New Zealand unemployment was 8.5% (down 0.3% since the June Quarter 2013) of the 2,629,000 in the NZ workforce – an estimated 223,000 (down 5,000) were unemployed and looking for work.
The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 8.5% is now 2.3% above the 6.2% currently quoted by Statistics New Zealand for the September Quarter 2013.
The Census  survey not only revealed that unemployment is much higher than the HLFS (7.1%, instead of 6.2%), but that youth unemployment was 18.4% – an increase from the 2006 Census result of 13.3%.
Places that could do with some more support:
I will add further suggestions from commenters