A recent survey commissioned by The Salvation Army shows that a large proportion of people in Aotearoa can’t afford to celebrate Christmas.
When asked to disagree or agree with the statement “I can’t afford to celebrate the festive season”, 23 per cent of respondents agreed. Nearly 45 per cent of respondents agreed that Christmas is a time of financial struggle.
The Salvation Army head of welfare services Major Pam Waugh says, “When we see results like this from a survey of the general public, we fear for our most vulnerable people. Not those who have overspent on parties or presents, but the ones who will come to us for food and shelter over the Christmas period."
The online survey conducted by a third party received 1,000 responses from people aged over 18 years across the country. It comes as The Salvation Army prepares for its annual Christmas Appeal launching today, with its theme of ‘All I want for Christmas’ highlighting how this holiday season is a time of stress and struggle for many while others celebrate.
The Salvation Army says the recently announced instated Families Package, designed to provide targeted social assistance to improve incomes for low and middle income families with children, is a step in the right direction, but warns positive effects will take some time to be fully actualised.
“People who come to us for help are in a cycle of debt which takes time to break. This is a slow process and in the meantime we still have families struggling at a time that should be joyous,” says Major Waugh.
In 2017, 17,000 New Zealanders sought help with the basics of life from The Salvation Army cases in the lead up to Christmas.
“Some of these cases were individuals, but many were families. Nearly 28,000 children were among the families we helped last year,” says Major Waugh.
“I’m concerned that demand will outweigh what we can provide. With a huge proportion of families struggling at this time of year, more than ever we need support from those better off.”
The Salvation Army Christmas Appeal launches on 19 November throughout New Zealand. Donations can be made online at salvationarmy.org.nz/christmasappeal.