Increasing numbers of "working poor" are seeking help from Tauranga's social services this winter, some of whom are being forced to choose between food or power.
This week the Salvation Army launched a public appeal to help people struggling with extra financial pressures during winter.
Davina Plummer, manager of the Tauranga Salvation Army's Community Ministries, said there had been a spike in people asking for help.
"There is always a consistently high demand during the winter months, with more than 21 people on average coming through our doors each week.
"Predominantly, people are asking for help to pay for basic needs, such as food and blankets."
Plummer said many people also accessed budgeting advice, counselling and other support services or asked for help with loans and transitional housing.
About one-third of people who sought help either worked part-time or were contract or seasonal workers, who needed help to pay their rent, power and even petrol bills, she said.
"People already struggling to pay for food, shelter costs, and other bills are particularly
vulnerable at this time of year."
The Salvation Army provides a raft of services for those in need including food parcels, budgeting advice, social work, youth development and emergency housing.
Plummer said the organisation relied heavily on public donations to provide the essential services, and donations of essential goods were also gratefully accepted.
"Anyone, who has a heater, which has been electrically tested, or clean blankets and other bedding, we can find a home for them immediately," she said.
Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust executive director Tommy Wilson said demand for food and other necessities from struggling families increased each winter. However, this year more "working poor" were also seeking help.
"About 10 per cent of our inquiries are now from working people," he said.
Some were having to choose between buying groceries and heating their home or paying other essential bills, he said.
Pip Brook, who runs Milo Nights in the Tauranga CBD for the homeless, said the numbers turning up had almost doubled compared to the 40 to 45 people on average last year.
"Two weeks ago we had about 100 people. We are also seeing a lot more women coming along, including some we had never seen before," she said.
Brook said the "working poor" were among those seeking help.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe said it helped people financially prepare for the winter months when power, food and clothing costs tended to increase.
McCombe said the Work and Income's Winter Energy Payment was a "welcome relief" for people needing extra help, providing it was used for its intended purpose.