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Helping others . . . Becky Dennison (left) and Sue Dundass, from Family Start in Oamaru, are hoping people will donate items that can help North Otago families through the winter. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

An Oamaru organisation is calling for help as it seeks to give struggling families a leg up through winter.

Sue Dundass and Becky Dennison, from Family Start in Oamaru, believe several families will face poverty issues throughout North Otago in the coming months.

Their main concern was a lack of suitable housing in Oamaru.

“There seems to be less housing available for families, and what is available is very cold and poorly insulated,” Mrs Dundass said.

Due to pressure on the housing market, many houses in Oamaru that were once relatively affordable to rent had become too expensive for some families, she said.

She thought the number of rental properties around the town had also dwindled because people were converting homes into tourist rentals.

“Rental accommodation that was available has now turned into Airbnbs, which means that there are fewer rental properties available for our families.”

Although the number of families in poverty in Oamaru had not increased dramatically, it was concerning to see any families struggling, Mrs Dundass said.

“There’s always an increase in the winter months, just because people need more warmth in the winter.”

Family Start had noticed an increase in families using the Oamaru Food Bank.

Rubbish disposal was also becoming a major issue for some families.

“It’s really expensive, especially for families that have got babies and have got a lot of nappies and a lot of rubbish,” Ms Dennison said.

Family Start is on the hunt for donations of woollen blankets amd firewood for the winter.

Mrs Dundass believed Oamaru had a supportive community that would be happy to help those in need.

“If we can identify a need, there’s usually somebody that is able to step up and help.

“What we’re wanting is donations of woollen blankets – not polar fleece, but actual wool for these families, so at least the babies can be warm in bed.”

People wanting to donate blankets or other items for winter can deliver them to the Family Start office in the Community Link building in Coquet St.