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The Salvation Army launches appeal to help thousands of Kiwis

All Blacks Captain Kieran Read is lending a hand with this year's Red Shield Appeal for The Salvation Army. Photo/Supplied.

Dig deep to help out a fellow Kiwi.

Thousands of Kiwis are doing it tough at the moment and thankfully, there is an organisation that offers support – but it needs your help.

Every year 120,000 people reach out to The Salvation Army for help with housing, food and other basic needs, and demand isn’t slowing down, the organisation says.

To address demand, its Red Shield Appeal takes place next week to raise money for budgeting advice, addiction services, counselling programmes, food parcels, and emergency and transitional housing.

Commissioner Andrew Westrupp says they’ve helped thousands of people transform their lives.

“Our work goes from the deep changes of helping hundreds of former prisoners to find jobs and start a new life crime free, or providing loans and financial mentoring to help people overcome crippling debt, to the simple practical steps of providing a meal or a listening ear.”

Last year, their addiction programme Bridge, helped over 6000 people address alcohol and drug issues; a University of Otago study shows Bridge success rates are among the best in the world.

Natalie*, a mother of two, had been using alcohol as a way to cope and went through the Bridge programme.

“On my day one of giving up alcohol, my eldest daughter was in hospital with anorexia, my youngest was an angry nine-year-old, my finances were a mess, my career was just hanging in there, and anxiety and depression were taking turns to lead this whole miserable dance.”

Two years later she is thriving, as are her children.

In response to the housing crisis, the Sallies found homes for 2400 people living rough and also plans to build housing units. They’ve established an inner-city ministry in Wellington for the homeless where a full-time staff member meets daily with people and assists them to access support.

The rising cost of living and housing challenges have been driving deep need among the most vulnerable in the South Island. The leaders of the Southern Division, Majors Christine & Earle Ivers, say this has seen people needing more intensive support.

Head of The Salvation Army's welfare services, Jono Bell, says they supported 120,000 families and individuals in 2018 and if they had the resources, they could help many more.

 “It’s astounding if you think of a packed stadium filled [three] times over with the number of Kiwis who are asking for help with adequate housing, food and other essentials to get by. This is what we see on the frontline consistently every year.”

Support the Sallies and together, let’s make change.

Donations can be made online at salvationarmy.org.nz/redshield or given to a Salvation Army street collector between April 29 and May 5.

*Surname removed for privacy.