Beginning a New Chapter
For over 25 years, the Kingsland Vinnies Centre has served countless families within Auckland. It has been home and haven to a thriving food bank, opshop and youth office; each of which has created a space for people to come together and grow. As the journey at the Kingsland Centre comes to a close, it is fitting that the impact of these services are now brought to the forefront.
Food insecurity is a challenge that no New Zealand family should have to experience. However, this has not been the case in Aotearoa.
In households with children, this form of insecurity is evident when adults or children has no reliable access to adequate food. It occurs in cases where caregivers feel anxious about where the next meal will come from, or are forced to rely on charity or emergency assistance programmes. Within Aotearoa, food insecurity is largely the result of a lack of sufficient money for food, although other socio-cultural factors play a role.
The Kingsland Foodbank recognises the importance of nutritional and accessible food, particularly for families in need. The team are aware that through the simple provision of foodbanks, this can address, at the very least the possible adverse health, development and education consequences.
On a typical day, anywhere between 10 and 20 families seek food assistance. These families come from all walks of life. Some live in the most deprived neighbourhoods, others with a primary caregiver on the benefit, and others who live with a sole parent. Regardless of their situation, the team provide a space where the stories of these families can be heard, and where necessary, the right avenues of support advised.
The Kingsland Vinnies Centre have been fortunate to have had a strong foodbank management team. Some of these young men and women have volunteered for over 20 years. They have provided countless hours in sorting, packing and organising dispatch of food parcels. They have walked alongside thousands of families and helped create a community of sharing.
Kingsland Vinnies Opshop
The Opshop in Kingsland has been pivotal in bringing people together within the local community. Aside from providing low-cost clothing, furniture and household items, the shop volunteers have provided a warm smile and inviting conversation for all who walk through the door. Each day the men and women involved ensure that the stock are set out nicely, and also assist the foodbank in putting together food parcels.
The older volunteers enjoy having the students around, who often share stories of their Vinnies experience. Elders need accompaniment, but the lack of understanding in needs and worries often cause a divide between them and the younger generation. The Opshop bridges this divide by creating an open space of positivity and hospitality.
A benefit of having an opshop near central Auckland has been the opportunities created for local young vinnies from high schools. These provide a platform for youth to see firsthand where their donations go towards. In learning through experience the students build upon their values and form lasting bonds that translate to stronger acts of service for the wider community.
Kingsland Youth Offices
Alongside the foodbank and opshop, the youth office has created opportunities for young people to be involved in shaping and driving the Vinnies Youth Programme in Auckland. It has been a space where creativity and oppeness could be nurtured. This provided the space for the services of the Kingsland Centre to become directly intertwined with the development of services and programmes for youth.
As the centre for the development of Auckland Vinnies Youth, the team has sought to create a feeling of connectedness to others and to wider society. Each year, the youth programme has grown, ensuring that those being served feel positive and comfortable with their own identity.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul have been privileged with the expertise and energy of many young men and women over the years. They have brought with them a strong sense of family and whānau, and brought the charism to life within schools, communities as well as their own peer groups. The Youth Offices have been spaces of connection, prayer and hope for the future of the Society.
The Auckland Vinnies operations have since moved to Gundry St, Newton. The foodbank and youth programmes will continue to run at the new facility, congruent with the many memories and stories shared at their previous location.
For our Wahine: Supporting One Another Through Connection
It is estimated that 1 in 100 people within New Zealand are homeless. Based on the street count, it’s estimated there were approximately 800 people unsheltered across Auckland on September 17, 2018. Approximately 48 percent of these people are wahine (women) who have no choice but to sleep it rough or live in precarious, transitional housing. There are countless stories of vulnerability, of suffering from harassment, violence and abuse. There is a pervading sense of anxiety for those who have no place to call home. Women often have to either keep to themselves, band together or have a partner to ensure their safety.
In response to the harsh realities of homelessness within Auckland, Vinnies have been meeting with Auckland Citymission leaders and members of Te Miringa Trust to roll out a new initiative to care for the wahine who need a safe space to relax, have dinner and just to be with other women.
As part of the new initiative, female volunteers from Vinnies and Te Miringa Trust volunteer each Tuesday to provide manakitanga (hospitality) through the hosting of an evening dinner.
The venue is provided by Auckland City Mission, who also provide the kitchen facilities and array of ingredients. A team of 6 Vinnies work diligently to prepare a hot scrumptious meal of “Fusion food”, designed to be nutritionous and filling.
Through a simple dinner, the these women are invited to form close connections with one another, to share experiences of women who have been there, done that; who know that connection building isn’t simply one and done. But rather, about nurturing healthy relationships and banding together as a family.
Loaves and Fishes: Making Food Matter
In response to learning about food insecurity within Aotearoa/ New Zealand, a number of schools continue to show they care through food appeals and cooking programmes. These initiatives have been aimed at supporting local families in need. In providing the neccessary items to make a meal, these allow families the space to focus on other aspects of wellbeing in order to become more secure.
The large amount of canned goods received over the last few weeks have been distributed to foodbanks across the city, with pre-cooked meals being prepared and provided to families in their respective communities. The Society of St Vincent de Paul would like to thank the many Young Vinnies who have contributed to the welfare of those around them.
One Family: Auckland Vinnies Youth Celebrate Feast of St Vincent de Paul
At the end of September, Vinnies Youth Auckland hosted the Diocesan Youth Mass. The theme was “We Give Thanks to You Oh God” and was celerated by Fr Martin Wu. The event also coincided with the Feast Mass of St Vincent de Paul, with almost 1000 coming together at the St Patrick’s Cathedral.
To celebrate the feast day, the charism that St Vincent de Paul displayed was recognised through the youth gathered, who received awards in recognition of their love and service fro the community. The mass included a poignant message of care for those we seek to assist, with music led by both Grace Ministries and Mother of Divine Mercy Youth.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul wish to thank the many young men and women who have made a commitment to service, particularly throughout 2019. To all our our connected Vincentians, principals, staff members of our secondary schools, leaders in the tertiary sector, Vinnies parish groups, as well as our families; thank you for your invaluable support of the work we do. The following people were recognised for their services to the community: