Standing with people on Struggle Street
Wellington's new city missioner knows what poverty is and wants to encourage people with resources to be more sharing.
Susan Blaikie, 43, raised by a solo mother in Christchurch, says her background provided worthwhile experience for her new job.
"We were really stuck for cash. If you are going to be in solidarity it helps to know what it is like to struggle," Mrs Blaikie said.
The city missioner heads the Wellington City Mission, a charitable organisation charged with looking after less fortunate people in the Wellington region.
Before marrying Duncan Blaikie 13 years ago Mrs Blaikie was a solo mother herself.
"We have four children, of whom three have left home. We also live with my mother, who was widowed about seven years ago, and with a solo mother and her daughter who has just clocked one year."
Mr and Mrs Blaikie live in Island Bay but want to buy a house in Newtown so she can be closer to City Mission work headquarters in Riddiford St.
"We're looking to expand our home to encompass a few more folk who would benefit from living in a supportive community/whanau environment," Mrs Blaikie said.
Ordained as an Anglican minister in 2000, she completed a theology degree at Otago University in 2006 and is now studying ways in which people could be more sharing of their resources.
"I'm working on my thesis for my Masters of Ministry. My thesis is on the impact of the Western world's culture of individualism/autonomy and how this has been absorbed in to the daily life of the church and causing distortion to the gospel [which is strongly communal]."
Before taking up her new position she was the priest in charge of the Anglican parish of Wellington South for 3 1/2 years. There she connected with people who were struggling financially, with addiction, isolation or with mental health problems.
"I have since felt strongly called to stand in solidarity with those who struggle to achieve quality of life or well-being," she said.
She has also served as a priest in Anglican parishes at Karori and Island Bay.
She is Wellington's first female city missioner and is deeply conscious of following in the footsteps of people such as Keith Elliott, VC, and Des Britten.
"We have a consumerist society. People struggling in the poverty line cannot buy into that. People should look at fostering community in their own homes. People need to get away from an individualised society," Mrs Blaikie said.
The Dominion Post