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HomeGround: A building changing lives

Published on 06/11/2023




Our story - Auckland City Mission

By Helen Robinson


As Manutaki, or Missioner, at Auckland City Mission – Te Tāpui Atawhai, I have the privilege of seeing the greatness that happens when a community supports one another.  At the same time, sadly, I witness every day the damage that occurs when people in that same community fail one another.

At the Mission, we support people who have been failed as we work towards a Tāmaki Makaurau where everyone can thrive.   We can only do that with our community believing in that same vision.  It’s enormously helpful to have Simplicity Trust by our side for the last six years.

Taking a step back in time, the Mission began 103 years ago. I can’t imagine our founder, Rev Jasper Calder, expected the organisation would still be needed more than a century after he began helping people facing poverty.  Yet here we are.

Here we are, supporting people in need of appropriate housing, kai and hauora.  Here we are helping people who have been failed by successive governments and by systems set up to support them.  Here we are asking those in our community who are well resourced to help those who are not. Here we are.

It’s a difficult and sad place to be.  Yet it’s hopeful.

The Mission’s new building, HomeGround, exudes hope and transforms lives.  At the time of writing, almost 80 people who would not otherwise have a safe, permanent place to live, now call HomeGround home.  For some, that hope and transformation means becoming well enough to work or reconnecting with their whānau or learning to cook a meal – whether ‘big’ or ‘small’, it’s all meaningful.

After moving into HomeGround, tenant Shane said: “I am so happy, and so honoured to be here. You couldn’t find anyone here who is happier than me … I feel safe now because we’ve got 24-hour security so I can just get on with my life.” Shane has now found work, giving him a focus for the future.

As well as providing apartments, HomeGround is a hub where the Mission also offers expanded health and social services, state of the art withdrawal service (detox) facilities and a comprehensive programme of activities in a warm and welcoming space.   

It was particularly special welcoming people to HomeGround for the first Christmas Day there, in 2022.   Tenants, families in need and street whānau (people experiencing homelessness) joined together for a festive meal with gifts for everyone.

Christmas is also a busy period across the Mission’s other services, and we’re so grateful to the Simplicity community for your annual festive season support.   Each year we provide approximately 10,000 parcels of food (almost ½ a million meals to people in December, along with 40,000 gifts for tamariki.  Your help means whānau can celebrate Christmas when they have no other means to enjoy that special time.

After Christmas, last summer’s weather brought the Mission’s support into the spotlight as we heeded the call to help people in their time of need.

During the deluges, the Mission’s team was on the streets, connecting with street whānau to ensure they were safe.  We offered food, dry clothes, and extra equipment.  We also welcomed people into our community dining room at HomeGround, Haeata, so they could have warm kai and be dry.

At the same time, we provided food and household goods to people whose homes were ruined by the floods.  In February, the Mission distributed the greatest number of parcels of food we’ve recorded for that month of the year - approximately 5,100 (almost ¼ million meals) - and supported other agencies.  

Although that was a significant high, we expect to see great demand for services continue.  We know that with the higher cost of living, plus the continued economic impacts from COVID and last summer’s weather, people still need help.   We can only offer that with your ongoing support – it’s humbling to know the Simplicity community is with us.

He waka eke noa – we are all in this together.  For that I am truly grateful and remain hopeful.