Homelessness is not as visible in Dunedin as it can be in larger cities overseas. Nonetheless, according to the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust, there are homeless people in Dunedin every night of the week. The Dunedin Night Shelter provides a vital service for our most vulnerable citizens. An increased demand on the service due to growing social problems and better coordination with organisations such as the police, community mental health teams, and Prisoners Aid means more volunteers are presently needed.
Helping to Fight Homelessness
Homelessness is a growing problem in New Zealand. The reasons for this are often complex. Night Shelter clients may not necessarily have problems with addiction or mental illness. They may be escaping violence, or difficult living situations, or may simply have fallen through the cracks of the benefit system. According to some, New Zealand falls behind other western countries like Australia and Britain when it comes to tackling homelessness. Homelessness is often ignored; it is often not seen as society’s problem.
In April this year, Dunedin Night Shelter trustees spent the night out in the open in the Octagon in order to raise awareness for their cause. Additionally, the Trust is currently running its ‘One Bite’ campaign. The goal is to raise enough money to purchase their rented houses used in Lees Street. This would help secure the service for future generations. Please visit the Night Shelter website if you would like to make a donation.
“It’s always wonderful to get volunteers,” says Night Shelter manager, Warren Smith. “Any voluntary work is always rewarding, and there are lots of needy people out there who hugely appreciate it. We always need more street appeal collectors, as well as people to help with the maintenance of our lawns and gardens.” Additionally, the Trust is currently seeking people to help with media and marketing.
Volunteers are also needed to cover sick-leave for the two permanent Night Shelter supervisors. Anyone interested in this role should be aware that they will encounter people from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicities, and of varying psychological conditions. There may be difficult clients and situations. However, full training is provided, and Warren says that in the four years he has worked at the shelter, though he has copped plenty of abuse, he has never felt that his personal safety was threatened.
If you are interested in helping the Night Shelter in any way, please contact them at email@example.com or phone them on 03 477 0546.
by Hayden Williams