A programme to help people on benefits was launched with a Mass in Wellington on May 10.Cardinal John Dew celebrated Mass that day to launch the Wellington archdiocese initiative, Benefit Impact.
Benefit Impact helps and advocates for those in the Wellington region who are on a benefit.
St Joseph’s parish in Upper Hutt welcomed beneficiaries to the event hosted by the parish from May 10 to 13.
Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) spokeswoman Sue Bradford told NZ Catholic that the archdiocesan Impact was like the one they run, but much smaller.
“It’s the same idea but done with a church and in a Catholic way, which I think is really fantastic,” she said. “We aren’t part of it, but we are wholly supportive, and we are looking forward to [seeing] how they go with this different model.”
The Wellington Benefit Impact is jointly supported and run by Wellington Catholic Social Services, Hutt Valley BEST (Benefit Education Service Trust), and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. It makes sure families living in poverty are receiving all the assistance available to them.
“We know that many families in our parishes and communities face real material hardship and often find it very difficult to ask for help,” Cardinal Dew said.
“We see this as a very practical way to assist and also to better get to know people in need.”
The cardinal said the archdiocesan Benefit Impact is a contribution to the Jubilee of Mercy called by Pope Francis this year.
Ms Bradford said AAAP had had two Benefit Impacts in about the past 18 months.
That [Mangere, 2014] Impact was huge . . . and we helped over 500 people in three days then, and this impact in April , we helped over 700 people.”
But they had to turn away more people than they could help, she said.
“We had over 100 volunteers . . . whereas what they are attempting in the Hutt is in a much smaller and more contained way . . . and I think it will be really interesting.
“So I hope it will work really well,” Ms Bradford said.