Speaking for ourselves: the truth about what keeps people in poverty from those who live it

Auckland City Mission Family 100 research project
Poverty Discrimination Welfare recipients Homelessness Financial security Poverty cycle Work for the dole Food security Auckland

At present in New Zealand there is no shortage of media attention given to beneficiaries, which often accuses them as being lazy or dependent bludgers, leading many to conclude that people living in financial hardship do so because they lack the initiative to free themselves from it. There is, however, a striking absence of information about what it’s actually like for families to live in poverty. About what happens when your child gets sick or a family member dies.

And about how, in spite of every effort, people cannot find decent jobs, houses or secure financial strategies to help them move forward and out of poverty. There is also a conspicuous absence of reporting about those people who manage to successfully navigate these issues and, in some instances, free themselves from them.

Speaking for Ourselves brings the voices of our 100 families to the forefront and, in doing so, reveals the true nature of what it really means to live in poverty in New Zealand. Although each person’s story is unique, what becomes evident is that there are particular experiences and themes surrounding poverty that hold true for the majority. In short, there are eight key drivers that keep people trapped in a state of constant financial hardship. These relate to the following areas:

  1. Debt
  2. Justice
  3. Housing
  4. Employment
  5. Health
  6. Food insecurity
  7. Services
  8. Education

This publication examines each of these eight key drivers in detail, how their daily influence on people’s lives operates to keep people trapped in poverty, and also how many of these drivers often act in concert, exerting a combined influence that is insurmountable for most people to overcome.

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