More families and working poor are seeking help from the Waihi Salvation Army as winter bites.

This month is the Salvation Army's Winter Appeal and national director of community ministries Jono Bell said vulnerable people struggled with warmth, shelter and food over the winter period.

The organisation is pleading for those more fortunate to dig deep and donate to its Winter Appeal to ensure they can provide services to the 120,000 people who use it a year.

"Our work will not let up in the coming months as people continue to struggle with keeping the house warm and food on the table."


He says the situation can also cause health problems due to living conditions.

"Substandard housing and poor heating often lead to sickness and people don't always get to a doctor when they should."

The latest Ministry of Health's annual data explorer found around one in seven adults were not visiting a GP due to cost, and this figure had not changed significantly from 2011.

"It's not only the fees that can be a barrier, but also transport costs to get there," Jono says.

"Even with free doctors' visits for children under 13, if there's no car, no petrol and no bus money, it's near impossible for some whānau."

Salvation Army Waihi Major Murray Sanson says from July 2018 to end of June this year 180 people including 128 families had reached out for assistance and food parcels.

Numbers were increasing he says and more working families were asking for help.

''The working poor are disadvantaged at this time of the year especially if their jobs are weather dependent and seasonal. Even those on minimum wage are finding it a struggle as the rates and rents are expensive and power is going up.''


Rents will always rise.

''It is difficult at this time of the year when we are using more power to keep warm."

There was a call out for blankets, with virtually none available at the Waihi Salvation Army Store. Store manager Mel Iremonger says there was a huge shortage of blankets.

''Every day people are coming in looking for blankets.''

She says if anyone was able to donate blankets, pillows or warm winter clothing it would be a wonderful gesture.

''If you are out shopping in the city centres or even online and come across sales for blankets like buy one get one 50 per cent off or clearance items and you don't need the extra blanket you may consider donating one to our Family Store. So many people would be extremely grateful.

''You would be helping us help those in need and we need your help.''

The Salvation Army Winter Appeal runs until the end of the month and people can donate by visiting The Salvation Army website or calling into its Waihi office.