Homeless/Begging Beat-Up

I’ve not written anything for a while, mainly because of my move to Christchurch changing my focus on various things; particularly getting back into my old passion – photography, check my Instagram.

Anyway, over recent weeks I’ve noticed more beat-ups against homeless and people begging on the streets; sure, there’s been beat-ups before, but there’s a new wave of this happening throughout the country and, quite frankly I’ve had enough of it.

As some of you will know I have always been supportive of people who don’t have what others have, those who struggle to find housing and those who struggle to make ends meet. And, before you say “but it’s their choosing” – stop!

Who chooses to be homeless? Sure, there may be a handful of people who prefer not to have a fixed abode, but they are few and far between.

And, to those who say beggars are only doing it to finance their drugs and alcohol – I call bullshit on this; yes, there are some that do that, but again they are few and far between.

Since being in Christchurch, just like when I was in Auckland, I have gotten to know some of the local street people and, what a great bunch they are; actually, I’ve reconnected with a couple of bods I knew from Auckland.

Now, back to the beat-ups, Auckland retailers are tired of them on the street, sure some can be a right royal pain in the butt, but why aren’t retailers just going up to them and asking them nicely to move on rather than being heavy handed and calling security patrols or police? A little polite dialogue can work wonders and earns respect for all concerned.

Now I’ve also read recently about community space design that seem to be done in a way to deter people from loitering, street furniture made in such a way that people can’t lay down; spikes on edges of buildings, sprinklers in doorways; aren’t we a great lot that we would sooner do things to deter than to face people and talk about any issues.

In Christchurch recently while talking with a couple of the street people, we were approached by the boys in blue and asked to move on; actually, more precisely they were asked to move on. They were sitting on seats installed for public use; so in my mind had every right to be there.

These cops told the guys to move or they would be moved on for trespassing. Me being me, I couldn’t bite my tongue and asked if this applied to me as well; no they said, only the street people, well, that made my blood boil. That, as I pointed out to the constabulary was profiling and discrimination, I was asked to shut up, and to mind my own business. Um, it is/was my business.

Eventually the cops relented and moved on. We won.

Just the other week, again I was talking with a chap on the street I have gotten to know, when someone from a security firm came along and told him he had to sit at least one metre from any shop frontage. When I asked if this was council policy or a council bylaw, I was immediately asked for my name, address, and date of birth, yea right, I ain’t giving this to anyone other than the police. This person tried to tell me she had every right to ask and that I was in breach of some law for not providing it. Um, sorry, you’re wrong I said. She then demanded to see some form of proof of identity, I told her no way, that she had no legal right to request that.

She got all huffy and was about to call the police for assistance, I even offered to make the call myself, lucky for her someone else from the company came along and defused the situation.

And, now, just over this last weekend I read a thread on Facebook, where someone was asking what help she could offer to a newly found young woman sleeping rough. While most people offered sound advice, one person chimed in saying that asking for help for a woman was sexist, that homeless men are more at risk on the street than a single woman. Well, again I had to call bullshit on this.

I have seen and spoken with women sleeping rough who have been exploited, used as sexual pawns.

We all need to understand our homeless, we need to get to know them and offer them any help we can. This help could be as simple as getting to know them, offering them help when they need it, steering them to the right agencies. Remember most people are only a few pay cheques away from being in the same boat.

What will you do to help those living rough?

Begging Ban

I was shocked to see on Stuff.co.nz that a building in Christchurch has now put up No Begging signage in a “effort” to move beggars on. The reasoning appears to be that there are a number of “professional” beggars, people who move into the area to solicit money when they don’t really need to be doing it.

What’s happening in our society when we label people without knowing the full story, some of the comments I have read online in regard to this particular article has shocked me; and then when I shared it on Facebook one person suggested that all beggars be exterminated, that they were rejects that society didn’t need. Someone also commented that beggars, homeless should be put into “secure” housing, when asked what was meant by this, the response was – jail, was this best option. Let’s hope these views aren’t shared by others.

OK, yes there are some people begging that can be a tad annoying, but it’s important that not all are tarred with the same brush; every one of them has a story, a reason for being on the street doing what they are doing. We should instead of banishing homeless and beggars, that we should be learning what has put them in the situation they are in and looking for ways to offer them the help they need to get on their feet.

There’s many organisations working to help homeless people throughout the country, and now we the Government ready with $100M to fight homelessness. All we need now is for the rest of us to understand why people are on the streets and offer support where we can.

Do beggars annoy you, do you want to see them banned from the streets?

Charity and the language we use…

Just came across this piece from RSM – and thought it a good piece to share, it’s worth the read.

What’s in a word or a phrase?  Well sometimes a lot.  Whether we appreciate it or not much of the language we use carries considerable extra weight and meaning due to history, perceptions, and baggage connected with it.

I was fortunate a while back to attend a seminar by Vicki Sykes on the topic of Business acquisition in the community sector in New Zealand.  Vicki is an interesting speaker and after 17 years as a CEO of a South Auckland charity she followed her passion to step back and do a University thesis on the topic of her presentation.

One of the quotes that Vicki used (and forgive me for not knowing to whom this should be attributed) was:

“Remember that being a charity is a tax status; not a business model.”

That line struck me as powerful.  One because of its simplicity.  But perhaps more so due to it making me question my use of the word charity.  There are so many assumptions we attach to a word.  These are built up over time and become unquestioned.  But when we sit back and consider them, sometimes we see that maybe these assumptions and perceptions we attach to a word can hold us back.

When I ask others, especially businesspeople, about the word charity as it relates to organisations, there seems to be a common understanding that this is an organisation that does good.  People understand that they exist to serve some social or community benefit.  The word charity is also associated with giving without expecting anything in return.  A very noble attribute.

Yet these understandings or assumptions about the word charity when considering a charitable organisation also seem to blinker some people in their attitudes towards the organisation and how it operates.

Keep reading here

What are your thoughts?

QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

On my way back from Christchurch to Auckland recently I got to talking to a couple seated next to me on the plane. They were intrigued by the book I was reading – Chapter One – we ended up have a good conversation about charity giving and the orgnisations they support.

So, seeing this from Greg Warner at Market Smart, is timely, and it covers exactly what the couple and I were talking about.

3 QUESTIONS EVERY MAJOR DONOR ASKS THEMSELVES AFTER THEY GIVE

  1. “What did they do with my money?”
  2. “Would my money yield more impact if I gave it to another organization?”
  3. “Do they make me feel good or bad?”

 

They said that they often feel some level of concern after making a contribution, mainly around whether the money they have given is going to the right organisation and that it will be used wisely and for the purposes the organisation said they needed support.

Do your donors have confidence in how you are using the support they are giving you, how do you allay any concerns they may have?

Volunteering, Why?

Why do people volunteer? There’s a myriad of reasons people opt to volunteer in their community.

The reason can range from giving something back to the community, giving time to an organisation that has helped them either personally or may have offered assistance to a family member.

Others volunteer to feel valued and part of a community; or to perhaps learn new skills.

There are cases where people may be directed to offer service in the community; often this is something ordered by a court. However, there are also times when a person who is receiving a form of Government assistance (benefit) may be asked to give time to a community organisation; in this instance, it is more than likely so as the person can gain a new skill and to add something to their CV.

I have even heard that some people volunteer as a way to do something different, to give them a break from their job. There’s some in this group who volunteer to bring their business/career skills to an organisation (pro bono).

Some people volunteer because they feel alone in their life, so a chance to volunteer gives them the chance to meet new people and a chance to socialise. And, if they are new to an area it allows them the chance to get to know others in their community.

Volunteering has been seen too as a way to improve on mental and physical well being.

Do you volunteer, if you do why?

Old Pugilist beat up

It’s not often I rant about an issue per se here, but after reading what Bob Jones had to say in the media yesterday (Tuesday 17 Jan 2017) I just can’t hold my tongue, or should that be my fingers.

Bob Jones, said in a report to media, as reported in the NZHerald that homeless people were essentially scum and worthless lazy buggers, sadly he doesn’t understand the reality and perhaps before he rants he should take timeout and sat and talked with some of the people sitting on streets asking for money.

I’ve spent many an hour speaking with homeless and beggars, not all homeless are beggars and not all beggars are homeless, they each have their own reason (story) for why they are where they are.

People like Bob Jones, and others who only want to moan, rant and say that people sitting on streets asking for money are scum and, more recently that begging should be banned, need to get their arses off their leather seats, and walk a mile (ok, a few metres) in the shoes of some people living off the street.

Unless we understand the whys of why people are living on and “off” the street then we can truly know what’s happening and how we can help.

We can all help, even if it is simply saying hello – don’t judge lest thee be judged.

There are people living on the streets who want to work, but because they don’t have a fixed address they can’t get jobs, because they haven’t been able to get a job for a few years they can’t get a job … drugs and alcohol are not the only reason, race is certainly an issue, but not the issue they are where they are at, the reason they are where they are at where they are is because of their race .. sadly we are still a racist country.

Yes, I’m angry, I’m angry because people like Bob Jones get to vent about people less fortunate but less fortunate people don’t have a voice, we need to be their voice, we need to sit and listen to them, to hear their stories and help where we can, they’ve been beaten down enough..

We need, nay, we must help lift those in need, we need to put our hands out, open our hearts do what we can to help.

 

 

 

Who’s in Your Advertising

We’ve seen it recently, and no doubt we’ll see it again, a community group using images that portray the peeople they support – yet, doesn’t actually use their images in promotional material, instead opting to use either stock photos or models.

Is it right or is it wrong?

We don’t see models being used for breast cancer campaigns, we see the real people. We don’t see models being used for promotional material of children suffering in far flung places, we see the real children.

So why, in the latest case models used in adverts for homeless charity a ‘kick in the guts’ has this organisation chosen not to use the real faces, the real people they are there to assist? Was it too hard, was it perhaps seen as possibly demeaning to use the real people; who knows. I’m sure they will have some spin out soon as to why, but for now all we can do is specualte as to their reasoning.

On the day the article appeared I heard homeless people talking about it, saying they felt cheated, that they are the real face of homelessness yet were being sidestepped, and they want answers.

I’m picking Lifewise will being getting a few visits from their clients asking why.
When you run your next campaign, will you use people representative of, from your organisation or will you get online and secure stock images, or call an agency for some models to portray the work you do?

If you opt to use people other than those you actually work with, be prepared for some flack, and possibly egg on your face when people start talking about it. And, sadly some of this talk will potentially end with your supporters voting with their wallets, taking their support elsewhere. Can you afford the gamble?

Giving Circles

Not something I have come across in New Zealand, although perhaps Rotary Clubs, Churches could almost be seen as a form of Giving Circle.

For those unfamiliar with what a Giving Circles is, this from an artiles on Nonprofit Quarterly sums what they are quite well.

Giving circles are voluntary groups that enable individuals to pool their money (and sometimes their time as volunteers) to support organizations of mutual interest. They also provide opportunities for education and engagement among participants about philanthropy and social change, connecting them to charities, their communities, and each other.

Have a read of the full article, Could Giving Circles Rebuild Philanthropy from the Bottom Up?

I feel there’s room for organisations to look at how they could help people to understand Giving Circles and use them to help build awareness of the work done of their organisation and, yes gain support.

Do you know of any Giving Circles in your area?

We can all help make a difference

On Sunday I spotted a post on Facebook asking people of the could help make Christmas brighter for people in need, by helping the Auckland City Mission.

As we all know not everyine has it easy at this time of year, the rent, phone, power still needs to he paid. Add to this the added needs of having children home from school, an expectation of Christmas presents, and families struggle.

In comes the Mission to offer what they can to help alleviate some of the added burden, but they can’t do it on their own, we need to help them.

And this is where the post I saw was aiming to help make it easier for the Mission and thier clients.

A simple request, essentially asking people to give what they could and a trip would be made to the supermarket to get items the Mission needed for their food parcels.

Well, it was a huge success, a read of how it unfolded, and while reading imagine if we all did something like this to help make the lives of others that little bit easier.

One Facebook Post Helps Over Thirty Families in Need

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m doing what many others are: Making a coffee, and browsing through Facebook.

In sharp contrast to the usual mundane nature of such things, a very special post appeared in my feed… An example of what one person putting the word out can achieve.

Earlier in the week, Reporter Megan Schoultz (NZ Herald) had written about The Auckland City Mission, and it’s challenges in coping with the demand from struggling kiwis, Nathan Elder saw for himself the shocking queues  made by the families in need, as he passed the Hobson St. drop-in centre last Thursday.

Read the full story here

Next time you see people asking if you can help, will you?