Sallies paint dire picture of poverty

Child poverty is not just an Auckland problem, a Taranaki Salvation Army manager said.

The Salvation Army has released its seventh annual State of the Nation report in which it reviews social progress in New Zealand.

Child poverty and the availability of housing in New Zealand both scored a D, the report calling them "time bomb issues".

In Taranaki, Salvation Army community ministries manager Lieutenant Fiona Stuart said poverty and housing were the two issues she dealt with the most.

"Child poverty is not just an Auckland problem. I can think of a handful of families I work with here who are really struggling.

"Children who aren't getting meat and vegetables and fruit. For some this is how it's been for quite a number of years."

She doesn't have answers, she said, other than to keep talking and networking with other agencies.

In the past year there had been an increase in the number of working families coming to the Salvation Army foodbank.

These families usually just need one off or short-term help, she said.

"Where dad had a fulltime job and those hours have been cut or in some cases there is no longer any work, and the person was laid off."

They then had a stand-down period before they could get help from Winz. Usually it was women who came in for help, but not always.

"You have guys in here crying their eyes out because they had always been able to put on the table for the family and they are having to suck it up and come and ask for help . . . that is huge for a guy."

There are definitely families who are seriously struggling and the need is increasing, she said.

The issue was Taranaki-wide, she said, as was the lack of affordable housing.

Some weeks she would have three or four people come to see her who had nowhere to go, she said.

"Obviously we send guys to the emergency shelter, but we are really limited with housing and where to send people."

Often men who were transient, tiki touring around the North Island, would decide to come to New Plymouth to see if they could find work - and then couldn't.

"Often I will have guys, and they are mostly guys, who come in here who have been living rough for a week or two - on the beach or wherever."

And there were a lot of people bunking on couches, who then burned their bridge with whoever they were staying with because they couldn't contribute financially, she said.

Taranaki Daily News