And so this is Christmas…
Christmas time comes with many certainties in New Zealand. There won’t be any snow. Every mall becomes home to a Santa Claus. There will be a variety of fake and real Christmas trees in workplaces and homes, decorated with lights that take too long to untangle and tinsel that has seen better days. Now another certainty at this time every year is that more and more people are reliant on charitable aid and foodbanks in order to make ends meet.
Most families experience tough financial struggles during the festive season. However, these decisions range in intensity. Some families make choices about how many presents they can give, or where to go on holiday. Others are forced to choose whether there will be any Christmas lunch at all.
Every December we are reminded in the media of the burgeoning number of people who line up at a foodbank for extra help over Christmas, and the charities that work hard to feed those in need yet lack the resources to provide for everyone. This grants us a glimpse at the true level of poverty and inequality in New Zealand.
This year the struggles are likely to be worse due to the additional supplies already generously provided to quake-stricken families in Kaikoura and surrounding regions. Last year we saw headlines like ‘Unprecedented demand at City Mission’ and ‘Rise in families seeking help for Christmas stress’. This year is set to continue along this line, with the Salvation Army predicting a 5.6% increase in demand from last year.
Yet this brief annual window excludes the elephant in the room: that this poverty is a consequence of our welfare system failing to provide the support it was intended to. …
Read on for the full piece on The Briefing Papers. It concludes:
I encourage you to give generously this year so we can offer some solace, as fellow citizens, to those who do not have the resources we do. But we must also remember to consider and address the causes, not just the symptoms. We have unprecedented levels of child poverty and inequality in New Zealand, a society that has enough resources to provide for everyone.
You can support your local foodbanks and homeless shelters, or if you want to make a donation online, some links are available below: