Care and connection — those are the key things homeless Northlanders need, the head of a Whangārei charity says.
Homelessness hit the headlines this week following an outcry about a Facebook post with the name and security camera photos of a man who had been living on a street corner in Paihia for a number of weeks.
The man who shared the post on a Paihia CCTV page has apologised for breaching the man's privacy, saying he did it because he wanted to get help for the man but didn't know who to ask.
Liz Cassidy-Nelson, chief executive of 155 Community House, which runs the Open Arms homeless day shelter in Whangārei, said everyday people didn't necessarily know what services were available or who to contact if they were concerned about a fellow citizen.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
She advised people to contact the services they did know — for example, police or even the council — because they had the networks and knew which services were best placed to help.
In Whangārei, especially during last year's lockdowns, police regularly passed on requests to 155 Community House to help homeless people.
A staff member at the charity's 155 Kaikohe hub helped a man who was frequently homeless in Paihia. Community members also regularly brought him kai.
"But the most important thing is that the story of homelessness is a story of disconnection. Changing that story is about care and connection. We can all help in some small way, and it can be simply letting someone know if you're concerned," Cassidy-Nelson said.
She advised against using social media to ask for help for the homeless, because Facebook and other online platforms could be tough places.
"You get a lot of judgment and keyboard warriors."
The charity's 155 Kaikohe hub offers community law, family court navigators, food rescue and a range of other services.