Appeal in face of cuts to services

The Salvation Army faces losing a third of its budget advisers, despite growing national demand for its social services, including an ''alarming'' 31% rise in food parcel demand in Dunedin.

The Salvation Army said it was beginning its annual Red Shield Appeal today facing an historically high demand for its social services and a significant cut in resources where they were most needed.

Salvation Army Dunedin community ministries director Lieutenant Andrew Moffatt said many Dunedin people who were unemployed or on low incomes continued to be badly affected by the economic recession.

About 70% of the Army's Dunedin clients were single men, some of them living in boarding houses, and some with little money and ''nothing to fall back on''.

Officials said demand for Salvation Army food parcels in Dunedin had risen 31.5%, from 488 in the first three months of last year to 642 in the comparable period this year.

The Government's temporary community response fund (CRF), aimed at helping social service NGOs cope with the demand bought on by the recession, ends in July.

This money helped provide an extra 20.5 budget advisers at Salvation Army centres.

It had allowed the Army to increase its provision of budgeting services by 230% from the start of the recession in 2008 to the first quarter of this year. Salvation Army social services secretary Major Pam Waugh, of Wellington, said the reduction in staff inevitably meant a cut in services, but the Army's budget advice service in Dunedin would not be directly affected.

Major Campbell Roberts, the Wellington-based director of the Salvation Army's social policy and parliamentary unit, was yesterday visiting Dunedin, where he previously lived and worked.

He hoped the decision to end the CRF support would be reconsidered, given the continuing demand for social services, and it was ''most probably not a sensible strategy'' to end the funding.

Dunedin Anglican Family Care Centre director Nicola Taylor said there was a continuing high demand for food parcels, and many more people with jobs were now seeking that help.

Dunedin faced a big problem with high youth unemployment, some children were affected by poverty and some Dunedin clients could no longer see their GP ''because they had not paid their bill''.

The centre had been fortunate to receive three successive grants of $50,000 per year from the CRF.

Its work would be adversely affected by the loss of that income, she said.

-john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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