Love Soup Rotorua reaches milestone in helping the homeless

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Today marks a milestone for the Love Soup Rotorua group who assist in the transition of the homeless and rough sleeping community.  Te Kāea met members of the homeless who have been involved with Love Soup Rotorua.

Hombre, Tipene and Andrew are preparing to move into their rented home.

Gina Peiffer (Love Soup Rotorua) says, "People think when you take a homeless person off the street and you give them a house and you think that's great because they are in a house, what they don't realise is that a lot of these people are overwhelmed by that prospect of being housed."

Between the three of them they have spent a number of years being homeless in Rotorua.

"Hombre" (Te Arawa) says, "Anything can happen to make you homeless there an old saying that goes don't knock it until you've tried it it's really up to you to be whatever you want to be at certain times in your life."

After being involved with Love Soup Rotorua, the three men help cook the food to feed to the homeless and rough sleepers every Thursday.  All of the food is donated by local businesses and the community.

Andrew Kameta-Kora (Ngāti Pikiao) says, "There's heaps of homeless out there and we all need loving pretty much and we all need people like Alva and Gina and we need our communities to come together and help our people."

Tipene Morehu (Te Arawa) says, "It's quite sad really seeing all the brother and sisters out there struggling to make a life."

Rotorua aims to do away with homeless and rough sleepers with-in two years.  Data from the Salvation Army and other agencies show that in 2013 they worked with 138 individuals or families who were homeless in 2014, the number had jumped to 178.

Peiffer says, "We don't have a lot of youth homeless here but we do have a lot of our 40-65 age group for our men and these men - there are a lot of intelligence, smart men there.  They want to be part of the community.  They just don't know how to."

Tomorrow, the Rotorua Homeless Action Plan will be launched with the aim to ending homelessness in Rotorua with two years.