Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Low-income family live week to week with help from City Mission

Times are tough for Jenny Daniell-Wiig with her sons Silas, 5, left, and Roman, 7. Photo / Peter Meecham
Times are tough for Jenny Daniell-Wiig with her sons Silas, 5, left, and Roman, 7. Photo / Peter Meecham

Mother of two Jenny Daniell-Wiig used to rely on a foodbank to feed her family on a regular basis.

But with help, she's made changes - starting by seeking budget advice. The 32-year-old has also moved into a cheaper home to help save money that can go towards other necessities like food.

Those changes are already making a positive impact on the family's life, with the 32-year-old needing a food parcel only once in the past six months.

Ms Daniell-Wiig and her boys, 7 and 5, are among 100 low-income families who have been given voices in an Auckland City Mission project which interviewed them every fortnight for a year. It found many were "trapped" in unemployment by the cost of study, lack of transport, poor health and past criminal records. But the project also found ideas on how to overcome those barriers, such as restoring training allowances for sole parents, free health care, and publicising a right to "wipe the slate clean" of minor offences after seven crime-free years.

Ms Daniell-Wigg, who was declared bankrupt last year, said budget advice has helped her to be "a bit more prudent" and she's been able to save $80 a week by moving house.

"Paying $80 a week less in rent is a massive difference," she says. "It's also a more healthy housing situation."

She has a new baby due on November 1. She will also have past offences "clean-slated" in November when she'll finally finish paying off fines imposed when she was 17. That clean slate will make it easier to find a job again, something she plans on doing as soon as the new baby is old enough.

"As soon as baby is old enough to go into childcare, I want to be going back into fulltime employment," she says.

The report lists eight barriers that trap people in poverty and suggests ways to overcome each one.

- NZ Herald

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