Martin de Jong and Lisa Beech
Upper Hutt’s St Joseph’s parish will host a four-day Archdiocesan ‘Benefit Impact’ event from 10–13 May, to help people on a social-welfare benefit better understand their benefit details, with the support of trained advocates.
People are invited to St Joseph’s Church in Upper Hutt, corner of Pine Ave and Main St, from 10am–2pm, on Tuesday and Wednesday 10–11 May. If more information is needed appointments may be arranged to meet Hutt Valley Work and Income staff on Thursday and Friday 12–13 May.
The event is organised by Wellington Catholic Social Services, Hutt Valley Benefit Education Service Trust (BEST), and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.
Teresa Homan from BEST says Benefit Impact is designed to help people check if they are receiving their full entitlement.
‘People on welfare assistance can sometimes be judged unfavourably by others, which can make them reluctant to seek support or they simply don’t know where to find it.
‘New Zealanders are eligible to receive assistance if needed so we want to ensure those who need it get all the help available to them.
‘Urban myths like people on a benefit as “lifestyle choice”, or spending the money on drugs and alcohol, adds to the stigma of being a beneficiary. This further isolates beneficiaries and their families. It is not a lifestyle and there is little choice about being reliant on benefit assistance.’
Several people are working at the Benefit Impact as volunteers and more are needed for advocacy, hospitality and support roles. A training day will be on Monday 9 May. For more information please contact Teresa Homan at BEST on (04) 529-8108 or Maria Noonan, Catholic Social Services, at email@example.com or call (04) 385-8642 or 021 982-167.
Martin de Jong is Advocacy & Research Advisor and Lisa Beech is Advocacy & Research Manager for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.