Kendra is working hard to save for the holidays. She works 48 hours a week in the security industry, but prior to Christmas was hoping to pick up extra work so she can enjoy the Kiwi summer with her daughters.
When Kendra first came to The Salvation Army for a food parcel, she had found herself homeless after an abusive domestic situation. But rental prices and competition for property made finding a house almost impossible.
She was forced to spend a year moving from motel to motel with her girls – at a cost of up to $1500 a week – putting Kendra into a cycle of debt, and making it difficult to keep the kids in school.
‘There were times I cried and cried over little things, it’s incredible what being hungry does to you,’ says Kendra – who went without food so her girls could eat.
Salvation Army foodbanks have seen a significant trend towards people in paid employment needing help with food and life essentials. ‘Rents are so horrific and the majority are struggling to pay the rent, pay the power and put food on the table. It’s just absolutely unrealistic,’ says Salvation Army manager Lorraine Brooks, in Glenfield, Auckland.
An adult working 40 hours a week at minimum wage will take home $603 each week, but the average 3-4 bedroom rental property is $575 per week. Even with government support, it’s impossible to balance the books.
‘But coming to The Salvation Army was the best thing that every happened,’ says Kendra. ‘When you come here, you’re at your lowest point. Nobody wants to beg for food and not be able to provide for their family, but the Sallies treat you like you’re a human and you have a heart.’
A food parcel was just the beginning of Kendra’s journey. Salvation Army social workers walked with her to secure stable housing, and provide all the essentials her family had gone without – from food to tampons. They accessed counselling and attended the Positive Lifestyle Programme – which helps with practical life skills, as well as rebuilding confidence shattered through trauma.
Kendra loves her job in security and dreams of building a life-long career. But it continues to be tough to pay the bills on minimum wage, so she still works with Salvation Army financial mentors to help her pay off debt and get ahead.
‘I want to make sure I’m good at my job and I’m reliable. My girls are now in school and they love it. The Salvation Army gave me the stepping stones to have confidence and believe in myself,’ reflects Kendra.