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Couch, cardboard or car – sleeping rough for others

Sep 29th, 2016 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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Messages on cardboard are one way participants can share their experience of #14hourshomeless through social media – supplied.

Couch, cardboard or car are the sleeping options for a nationwide campaign on October 7 to build empathy and drive change for homelessness.

So far 374 people across New Zealand have signed up to sleep rough to raise money for  local projects aimed at addressing homelessness.

The 14 Hours Homeless initiative by the Salvation Army is in its third year.

The Sallies partner with other agencies, businesses and individuals to raise awareness of the experiences of homeless people and funds that make a difference.

“This is a fun and different way for community groups and work places to come together for a great cause,” says Major Pam  Waugh, head of The Salvation Army’s Community Ministries.

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City Missioner Rev. Tric Malcolm is one of the organiser’s of this years event.

In the capital five agencies are collaborating with two events in central Wellington on Friday, October 7.

The Salvation Army’s Wellington Youth Services, with DCM, the Soup Kitchen, Wellington City Mission and the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust have been working on the event for months.

While people can support the agencies through donations, City Missioner Rev. Tric Malcolm is keen for people to sign up to participate.

“In terms of fundraising, you can give money and then it’s outside your world whereas this is an invitation to come, enter the world and be affected by it,” says Malcolm.

Councillor Paul Eagle slept rough for the first time at last year’s event and said it was cold, uncomfortable and he got little sleep.

“There’s nothing like experiencing something to find out what it’s like,” says Eagle.

There is a growing call for the Government to address the housing crisis that is having a direct impact on New Zealand’s increasing homelessness.

“14 Hours Homeless is a chance to build empathy for the one-in-100 Kiwis struggling to find suitable permanent housing and to signal to government that better solutions need to be found,” says Waugh.

In 2014 Wellington City Mission budgeting clients were paying over 50% of their income in rent, with some as high as 70%.

“When you’re that far up there’s actually nothing left by the time you pay all the utilities and you feed your family, you can’t participate in any level of society,” says Malcolm.

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Community engagement manager for The Salvation Army, Rhondda Middleton will be participating for the third time – supplied.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester will be attending this year’s event which falls on the eve of  election day for local government.

Wellington’s homeless community  is on Lester’s agenda with his announcement about the idea of a Wet House for the inner city.

It came after discussion with Stephanie McIntyre, Downtown Community Ministry’s Director and Brian Dawson, former board member of DCM.

The Wellington City Council supports a number of agencies with about $1.2 million says Lester.

Te Mahana is Wellington’s strategy for ending homelessness in the city by 2020.

“This means addressing severe housing deprivation by increasing housing affordability, reducing poverty and increasing household incomes,” the document says.

In 2013, one in 100 people were living in severe housing deprivation in New Zealand, according to recent University of Otago research.

Families with children made up over half of that number.

Last year’s 14 Hours Homeless events involved over 500 people and raised over $80,000.

For more information or to sign up visit 14hourshomeless.org.nz.

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