Angels are among us
The economy may be on the up but Auckland City Missioner Diane Robertson says it will be a long time before the benefits reach those at the bottom of the financial heap.
The mission is in the middle of one of its busiest times of year and Ms Robertson says people living in chronic poverty are still doing it tough.
The mission is asking Aucklanders to think about those who will be struggling this Christmas.
"If there is an economic recession, the last people to recover are the people in the lowest incomes," Ms Robertson says.
"We talk about the trickle-down effect and it certainly is a trickle by the time it gets to the bottom. It's barely a drip."
Research shows four out of 10 children are living in poverty so no-one should be surprised to see queues outside foodbanks and community centres, she says.
The mission's annual Christmas appeal is under way with the aim of raising $1 million in just six weeks.
"Our campaign is about becoming someone's angel and what we're doing is asking them to spare a thought, and some money or a gift or food, for those who would otherwise go without.
"You never know who you could be helping; it could be a neighbour or a person down the street or a child who goes to school with your children.
"You don't know what's happening inside a family, but when you give you will be an angel to someone who would've missed out otherwise."
The lead-up to Christmas is proving as busy as ever for the mission's volunteer crew.
In the two weeks before December 25, workers will have given out up to 15,000 presents for children who otherwise would not get anything and 2500 food parcels that will help feed 5800 children.
Ms Robertson says she sees beautiful babies and children visiting the mission who have begun their lives in poverty.
"They have already got their potential limited by being there. It doesn't mean to say they are bad mums or dads but they are limited and I find that sad.
"Every child I see is bouncy and excited about Christmas and they are full of potential and promise but much of the time that is just not realised."
Visit the website becomesomeonesangel.co.nz to donate to the Auckland City Mission.
Diane Robertson says the situation for our poorest families is getting worse and things will not improve until a consensus is reached.
''If you look at the last 15 years this isn't just a result of a recession. This is a result of every government not putting children at the core,'' she says.
''It's not just National, it's not just Labour. This has to become an apolitical, structural issue before something will change.
''If we want new roads or trains or a railway loop that's all we will hear, that's all we focus on.
''When do we hear about children? What politician, what party, what part of society is actually standing up and saying 'kids aren't the centre of this because we are throwing 25 per cent of them away'?
''Until we do that there is not going to be much of a change.'
Auckland City Harbour News