Increased financial pressure has led to more whānau needing assistance from The Salvation Army this festive season.
Almost 30,000 struggling New Zealand families and individuals have reached out to The Salvation Army needing food parcels this year (to 30 September). This is a 4.3 percent increase on the same period last year.
New statistics from the Salvation Army reveal critical levels of need for whānau ahead of the Christmas break. They're anticipating a 5.39% increase in demand for food parcels for the final quarter of 2016.
The number of new families also in need of food parcels is predicted to increase by 6.23%.
In the last quarter of 2015, more than 14,000 parcels were sent to families, 4,553 of which were new families.
The Salvation Army is also expecting to provide more than 15,000 food parcels to over 17,000 struggling families.
Previous and predicted statistics show the following:
Salvation Army head of social services Major Pam Waugh says for New Zealanders who are only just getting by, Christmas adds extra pressure on top of the everyday bills and stress.
“It kills the spirit of Christmas—joy, faith, hope and love. When there’s pressure on families, parents get stressed and it can lead to despair, depression and relationship breakdowns. It can be a time of loneliness for the elderly, and it can destroy children’s hope that Christmas will be a special time for them.”
Waugh says the Salvation Army's appeal which kicked off this week is all about bringing hope to those who are desperate for help.
"Our appeal is about lifting up these families and giving them hope. Taking away that pressure and helping them have a truly happy Christmas that doesn’t put them further into despair.
We believe Christmas should be about positive, healthy relationships for families and communities. We work with people to create good ways Christmas can happen safely and without more stress or hardship. We run life skills groups that help them deal with stress and offer financial literacy advice to deal with the impact on their finances. There’s a lot of social work, advocacy and counselling in place for those who need it."
You can donate online via the Salvation Army website or by phoning 0800 53 00 00.