The Salvation Army wants to stop Christmas being a killer for Kiwis this year.
For most New Zealanders the Christmas season is a time of joy and hope for the new year, but for many others it is a time of extreme stress and loneliness as they battle constant pressure. This can include the cost of trying to provide for Christmas, the shame and isolation of not being able to, and loneliness for those without family close by.
The Salvation Army is expecting to help 17,000 families and individuals in urgent need this year—people who find the pressure of Christmas kills their joy and hope. It is asking New Zealanders to help bring hope to life for these struggling people by donating to its Christmas Appeal, which launches today.
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.”
Increased financial pressures due to the rising cost of housing, the general cost of living and the downturn in the rural economy have seen more people coming to The Salvation Army for help this year. Budgeting, counselling, advocacy and accommodation services are in high demand, while almost 30,000 struggling New Zealand families and individuals have come to The Salvation Army needing food parcels this year (to 30 September). This is a 4.3 per cent increase on the same period last year.
Waugh says the appeal is about bringing hope to those people and more who struggle at Christmas.
“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 family and community. 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.
“We want New Zealand to be known as a country that takes care of the vulnerable, and we are extremely grateful that at Christmas so many Kiwis want to make sure others don’t miss out on enjoying this special time of year.”
The Salvation Army Christmas Appeal launches on 21 November throughout New Zealand. You can donate online at salvationarmy.org.nz or by phoning 0800 53 00 00.