‘A tough year in Oamaru’

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North Otago people of all ages and backgrounds are seeking help with their finances going into Christmas, Budget Advice says.

“It’s right across the board, people with health problems, people who are working part-time,” Budget Advice co-ordinator Marge Giles said.

“There’s been redundancies in the last month and that makes it more stressful.”

She said having Christmas Day in the middle of the week created problems for people also and then finding money for holidays and thinking about paying for children’s return to school in the New Year all added to the pressure.

“Each situation is different. Everyone is getting different amounts of money, so we do a financial plan,” she said.

“We say do your rent and power first, but everyone wants to give presents.”

Mrs Giles said people had become more realistic.

“There’ve been hard times, with the freezing works and at the woolspinners. There were quite a few things happening. It’s been a tough year in Oamaru.”

Mrs Giles said the numbers seeking their help were about the same as last year. Budget Advice sees on average up to 30 people a month.

Captain Kathie Garbett, of the Salvation Army, said families were continuing to seek help with food and housing in Oamaru and the need was “pretty constant”.

Meanwhile, Bernard Wilkinson, of the Oamaru Churches Foodbank, said demand had been steady for their services in the lead-up to Christmas.

The Foodbank had received a strong response to the annual Lions Combined Churches Toot for Tucker collection in November and Mr Wilkinson said they had plenty of non-perishable goods.

“We’re in a good position to meet any needs.”

The Oamaru Combined Churches have been distributing Christmas parcels and food to 87 families in Oamaru.

Tomorrow, starting at 11.30am, the Orwell St Church will put on Christmas dinner for up to 80 people.