Dunedin politicians heard news from the coal face of social
services yesterday, as they took in the views of the city's
Experiences of teenage mothers, hungry children in poverty
and a small pool of funding for those helping out took the
reality of some residents' lives to National list MP Michael
Woodhouse and Labour's North Dunedin MP Dr David Clark.
The event at Burns Hall yesterday was an interdenominational
breakfast meeting of about 25 church leaders connected
through the Dunedin Inner City Ministers Association and the
Dunedin Pastors Network.
The organiser, university chaplain the Rev Greg Hughson, said
the idea was to develop ''a greater sense of understanding''
in the politicians of issues faced by churches working in the
Those included the increasing gap between rich and poor, poor
quality housing, unemployment and the cost of food.
Those issues meant the need for ''comprehensive support'' for
those struggling, work done by agencies including the
Salvation Army, Presbyterian Support, the Methodist Mission,
Catholic Social Services and others.
Presbyterian Coastal Unity Parish child and family
co-ordinator Mary Somerville told the meeting she ran a
holiday programme for children.
She said more and more children she saw had just one meal a
day because their families could not afford three.
Children at the programme were supposed to bring lunch, but
some came without it.
''That's a concern.''
Salvation Army Gardens centre leader Nolan Hill said his
organisation had run a programme for teenage mothers, helping
them continue education or train for the work force.
That programme had to close, because of the small pot of
Funding was a continual challenge, Mr Hill said.
While the meeting was intended to be ''dialogue'', both
politicians used to opportunity to push their parties'
Dr Clark spoke about Labour's plan to increase the minimum
wage to $16.25, and criticised Government tax cuts that had
benefited the rich rather than the poor.
Mr Woodhouse countered a minimum wage increase could not be
done ''without impact''.
He said the Government wanted children to grow up in
''loving, well insulated homes, with food in their tummies''.
''For far too many, this isn't the case.''