The Year in Review

This year, The Mission continued to be there for society’s most vulnerable, and for individuals and families who simply can’t navigate the system in order to improve their health and welfare.

The Government is taking an approach to social policy called ‘social investment’, which in simple terms means Government committing resources today with the expectation that in the future there will be a worthwhile return. This could be indicated by a quantifiable improvement and better long-term results for people, especially those who are vulnerable or in hardship. Ultimately, the number of New Zealanders relying on social services and the overall costs for taxpayers would reduce. Although viewed through the lens of Christian compassion rather than economic theory and terminology, The Mission continues to walk alongside those who are struggling or at risk, and are seeking to achieve fullness of life.

In recent times, entry to ‘walk-in’ agencies (such as Work & Income NZ) has become more restricted, or application processes are only available online. As a result, a worrying number of people have been effectively excluded or denied the assistance they need. In response, The Mission offered increased advocacy throughout every service. We answered more demand from young and old to access assistance to housing, resources including funds and financial assistance, medical care, and educational support.

It also became a requirement for social services to submit clients’ personal data to the Ministry of Social Development for some funding contracts. When discussing this with those people we work with, many expressed reticence – for a range of reasons. We would like to think that de-identified data could offer insight into the situations that most of the people we work with are experiencing, and also the success (or otherwise) of interventions – be that preventative or responsive in nature. ‘Big data’ should be able to improve spending decisions around vulnerable people over the long term, without necessarily compromising personal privacy.

The way many of our services work, particularly our Budgeting Advice, will suit the changes that the Ministry of Social Development have specified in the Building Financial Capability contracts. The Mission’s key outcome of self-empowerment sits well with capability-building in clients managing their personal finances and transactions. During the year The Mission’s service evolved in line with the move toward building the financial capability of people and communities. This included redefining our ‘Budget Advisors’ to ‘Financial Mentors’, and preparing for group and peer-led support for those needing this form of advice.

Although we have mostly worked with families on an ‘early intervention’ basis, we have also worked with an increased number of Child Youth and Family (now Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki) referred families. Their higher risk factors and less stable situations call for more frequent and closer engagement by our social workers. For example, we provide additional support when children are placed back to their parents or alternative Court-appointed (non-parental) care. In all situations, trusting relationships between our Mission for Families social workers and families or caregivers enable them to make decisions that are workable and benefit their children.

Treasury has identified factors that are predictive of poor future outcomes for children 0-14 years of age. Our Mission for Youth rangatahi have a history of at least two or more of those factors, which include:

  • Child Youth and Family involvement or a child being placed in care for a period of time
  • main caregiver has a Corrections history
  • main caregiver is in receipt of a benefit (long term)
  • mother has no formal qualifications.

As well as service delivery to a group of students with an average age of 14½ who have been withdrawn or excluded from mainstream school, some very high-risk rangatahi attended Mission for Youth this year. On the whole, students needed more intensive support including educational, mentoring and health services. 

Some have accessed mental health care while on the programme, others are in need of counselling for a number of reasons as well as alcohol/drug misuse or dependence. We increased staff time with each student, referred rangatahi and their whanau to other Mission and external services for holistic support, and strengthened Tikanga and Te Reo tuition. Success is expressed in different ways for different people. We are pleased to have remained in contact with several former students who have informed us how they have achieved success and their own personal aspirations.

Many of our Mission for Independence clients experience multiple issues and changing situations. Many also have poor general health correlated with financial hardship, and the risk of mental health problems escalates when hardship is increased. There has been an increase in people presenting with methamphetamine addiction this year. All such factors can consequently produce lack of security in housing, and homelessness can ensue. To address clients’ financial issues and improve their well-being, staff have spent more time advocating with external agencies for healthy and affordable housing, upskilled through training workshops, and co-ordinated the delivery of wellness programmes on site.

Each year we are visiting more seniors in private rental accommodation. There are fewer who own their own homes. The threshold for eligibility for state funded in-home support such as assistance with showering, meal preparation and
household cleaning for those who cannot manage such activities is seemingly rising. Over the year, 79% of the service users with Mission for Seniors were living alone, 12% as a couple and 9% living with family. Our advocacy for vulnerable seniors is often centred around their capacity to safely remain in their home environment. This could mean physical safety or health. Much of Mission for Seniors’ work has involved GP and hospital appointments, assisting clients to find the right housing for their needs, and helping reconnect with whanau or get more involved in their communities again.

Our own eldercare home and hospital, Kemp, experienced the trend for seniors to stay in their own home environments longer. Although a very high standard of care is offered as evidenced by four-year Health and Disability Standards certification, bed occupancy was not optimal in terms of efficiency. In relation to scale, larger hospitals or multiple hospitals make lower average costs possible. Maintaining community and whanau links is important to Kemp, and staff work together to acknowledge and celebrate resident and whanau cultural and spiritual values. The monthly Maori & Pasifika resident groups and harakeke/flax weaving are popular, as are the weekly church services held on-site.

One of the highlights of our year was the opening of our City Mission Store in Taranaki Street. The shop sells high quality second-hand clothing, furniture, houseware, books and more. Not only are proceeds used to fund our community work, but a charity shop was one great way for us to step up in an increasingly challenging fundraising environment, and create sustainable long-term income. It’s been such a success that we will be opening a second store in Petone in August 2017.

Also in the immediate future, we will be prioritising and operationalising the elements captured in our Strategic Framework, which was brought together by way of co-design in the last quarter of last year and the first quarter of the next. We look forward to initiating some innovative ideas in line with our future vision and commitment to keep pace with our changing world.

This is an extract from the 2016-17 Annual Review. If you would like to read the whole document, you can download it from the resources panel on this page.

Resources:

Annual Review 2016-17

Points of Interest:

What We Do

On a Mission Magazine