Helping the Helpless

By Finn Blackwell

Many assume that a warm bed, a hot meal and a roof over one’s head is a basic human need. However, a large percentage of the population now see these necessities as a luxury. According to a University of Otago study, there are more than 40,000 homeless people in New Zealand. That’s a rate of one in 100 New Zealanders. The homeless crisis in Auckland alone is only growing, with an estimated 25% increase from 2006 to 2013.

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Whether due to the rising cost of Auckland housing making it impossible to afford a home of one’s own, drug and alcohol abuse tearing families and relationships apart, or simply a lack of stability in an individual’s life that leads to being unable to maintain a home or job of their own, homelessness is a crisis that affects thousands, daily.

And while so many will walk past these people, choosing to ignore them, it is the efforts of volunteer groups like the Auckland City Mission that open their arms and hearts to these people, giving them beds for the night, warm meals and a place to go and feel at home.

Many members of the Auckland City Mission are volunteers, taking time out of their own lives to help others.

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400 volunteers fed more than 2000 people in need at the annual Auckland City Mission Christmas Dinner

When asked how students and young people could aid in the fight against homelessness, Auckland City Mission CEO, Chris Farrelly remarked:

“I wish to acknowledge all the support we receive at the Auckland City Mission from students.

Many students volunteer at the Mission, generally assisting serve our meals at breakfast and dinner or helping with the packing up of food parcels at our Distribution Centre in Grafton.”

“Volunteers are always welcome and anyone interested can call the Mission or go onto our website for more information.” Stated Farrelly.

“We certainly always need extra hands in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  A particular area where we need help is to transition the Mission to your generation.”

The Auckland City Mission has been helping the persons in desperate need since 1920 and has had support from volunteers since the beginning.

Mr Farrelly has commented, saying “Your parents and grandparents have been supporting us for 100 years and now we have to move the baton to your generation.  In days gone by, all of Auckland knew about the Mission through traditional media.”

“In the future, we will rely more on you to get the messages out through social media and for your generation to come up with ideas on how we can end Homelessness and Food poverty in NZ and to advocate and bring to light areas of injustice.  We need your help, your ideas and your connections. I personally would like us to have a youth/ student advisory council to assist with the generational transition.”

With volunteer support, Auckland City Mission has been able to distribute 12,753 emergency food parcels to struggling families and individuals and house 112 homeless clients within the past year alone.

For students looking to aid the Auckland City Mission in delivering food parcels or patrolling with them to aid homeless individuals in Auckland, please visit to get in touch with the organisation.

While organisations like this are making strides in the effort to eliminate homelessness in Auckland, there is always more to be done, and with support from today’s youth, the “luxuries” of a hot meal, warm bed and roof over one’s head can be had by all.

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