Even though we live in a country of abundance here in Aoteroa New Zealand, many of our people go to sleep hungry and without adequate shelter. Helen Robinson explains the deep and broad impact of poverty on all dimensions of wellbeing, and how poverty and food insecurity creates mental distress, physical health, and takes years off life expectancy.
Helen shares how poverty drives social exclusion and isolation, and the deep shame associated with it. “We condemn people to poverty, and then we condemn them for being poor”. She discusses the multi-generational impact of poverty, and the role of colonisation in creating the hopelessness that so often weighs down those who most need hope and change.
Helen explains why she believes that for long-term change it’s imperative to support children through ‘the first thousand days’ of life, and to address the ongoing impact of colonisation on wellbeing for so many of our marginalised people. She believes that a genuine power sharing through Te tirit ō Waitangi is part of the way forward. She shares how the Mission is working on its own power sharing and bringing all voices to the decision-making table.
It’s a confronting discussion. Helen says, ‘because some people have too much, some people have too little. She calls on those who have privilege, resource and power to become conscious of that. Remaining hopeful, she believes that ‘the way out and through is in relationship’. To reduce the ‘othering’ of those in poverty and enable change, she challenges everyone listening to ‘be in relationship with someone who is wildly different to you and see where it takes you’.
Helen Robinson is the Auckland City Missioner. Her adult life has been devoted to eliminating homelessness and poverty. Starting as a youth worker and social worker, Helen has worked with some of New Zealand’s most excluded and marginalised people. Committed to supporting the dignity of the people needing the Mission’s support, Helen is the voice and advocate for those living in poverty and homelessness. As well as supporting those in need, she works to change the values and conditions that enable homelessness and poverty to persist.
To support Helen’s mission to end poverty and homelessness, you can donate here.
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