Faith firmly behind work to help those in crisis


Article written on nzcatholic 

Don’t leave us.

That’s the message Danielle Bergin received loud and clear when she announced she was shutting her emergency housing facility because of a lack of funding.

And so she has decided to stay. Ms Bergin pulled the Island Child Charitable Trust premises off the market on February 24 after the Tamaki community rallied around her.

The support has been overwhelming, she says.

“I don’t think people realised all of the homeless issues in Glen Innes pretty much fall onto one woman’s shoulders. It’s just marvellous what comes out when you put up your hand and say we are desperate.”

Agencies, community groups and individuals have offered to pitch in and people have even been walking in off the street to lend a hand.

There is still a gaping hole in emergency housing funding but the practical community support will help, Ms Bergin says.

Te Waipuna Puawai Mercy Oasis, Plunket, Working Families and HEART are among the organisations putting up their hands to assist.

“In a way it has been really good to go through these last couple of weeks because it has brought people out of the woodwork,” she says.

“We’ve been doing the whole package – health, education, housing – but when people come on board it’s so much better.”

A Samoan university graduate is now volunteering with the trust as a homeless worker for families.

Island Child is still looking for more compassionate, quick-learning volunteers who have some life skills to pass on.

Even donating used furniture can be life-changing for some families, Ms Bergin says.

“What we’re trying to do is just keep hanging in there.

“It has been quite hard as the only homeless worker in East Auckland. At times you think you’re doing all this work and it’s unsupported.”

Te Waipuna Puawai is a community development initiative of the Sisters of Mercy New Zealand, established in Glen Innes in 1999.

Manager Puamiria Maaka says hearing about Island Child’s impending closure was deeply concerning.

They are stepping up their support of Ms Bergin in any way they can, she says.

“There’s such a gap for the provision of emergency housing in our community.

“Danielle is just an important piece of that puzzle to support those in need.

“I just don’t know what we would do if that service was no longer available.”

Go to islandchild.org.nz to contact the organisation or for more information.