Home, Sweet Home

Published by Selwyn on

Home, Sweet Home!

A reflection on lockdown in praise of the Auckland City Mission

Ah, home”, we say as we return at the end a long day: “home, sweet home”. Home can be a beautiful thing.

 

And for many of us, the idea of ‘home’ never meant so much as it did on March 23, when Jacinda announced that within 24 hours we would entering into at least 4 weeks of nation-wide lockdown. So too when more recently we entered our second lockdown period.

No more dinners out, or coffees with  friends, or kick arounds in the park. 

  Just, well — home.

For the fortunate among us, home is a refuge, emotionally and medically, from the impending threat of a Covid-19 outbreak. For too many others, tragically, home is marked by dysfunction, or violence, or the fear of not knowing whether there will be enough food to put on the table each day.

 

Others again, might have no ‘home’ to retreat to at all. In this way, the lockdowns have shone a spotlight on some of our most vulnerable: those sleeping rough on our inner-city streets, or sleeping in cars, or moving in and out of temporary accommodation. The Auckland City Mission, explains its Chief Executive, Chris Farrelly, exists to walk alongside these people, especially in times such as these.

 

In this inaugural episode of the podcast, Contagious Kindness, co-hosts Anna Cusack and Lauren Sanderson caught up with Chris to discuss the Mission’s mahi throughout lockdown and in the months ahead. It’s a beautiful korero: listen to how the theme of ‘home’ weaves itself, like a harakeke basket, in and out of Chris’ moving account.


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A few of these weaves particularly stood out for me. The first takes us back to the Mission’s incredible efforts over the first few days of the first nation-wide lockdown — though Chris was the first to stress the work was collaborative with government and other agencies. 

 Within those first few days, the team started to house some of the Aucklanders experiencing homeless in temporary accommodation. Throughout lockdown, the approximately 200 people housed by the Mission received the full wrap-around support, including daily check-ups and food. For Chris, what truly brought a smile to his face was to see these people — some of whom may have slept rough for over 20 years — finding a home, a place of refuge, a space to call their own.

 

This mahi came at a cost, however: it put the Mission’s staff at the covid-19 frontlines. To avoid the possibility of spreading the virus to the wider community, these frontline staff voluntarily choose to live in motels during levels 3 and 4, giving up their own homes and families for that time.  

 

That said, I suspect those staff might describe it more as moving from one family to another; one home to another. For you can’t listen to Chris for long before hearing the centrality of community, of home, to the Mission’s whole ethos.

 

You hear it in way he describes the Mission’s new building project, HomeGround — an ambitious redevelopment project with some 80 accommodation units, a detox centre with 25 bedrooms, training, medical and dining facilities. You detect its presence in Chris’ enthusiasm for the re-opening of the Mission’s Haeata Community Centre, offering a community dining hall which provides nutritional meals in a safe, welcoming environment. Home is there too in his gratitude toward the wider City Mission whānau: staff, volunteers, donors; and those who cheer on from the sidelines.

And right near the end of the korero, I once again hear its sweet tune when Chris is asked about his favourite moment of the previous week. His answer: the wider City Mission staff returning to the office after almost 10 weeks. The shared delight of welcoming each other home.



"I suspect those staff might describe it more as moving from one family to another; one home to another." 

The Give Better community could not be prouder to partner with the Auckland City Mission. Proud to support them as they work towards seeing all those given temporary accommodation during lockdown having a permanent place to call home. And as they continue to walk alongside some of Auckland’s most vulnerable, offering that spirit of belonging and welcome captured in the expression with which we began: “home, sweet home”.

 

Every $10 you give to City Mission through the Give Better app provides one nutritious meal at the Auckland City Mission’s warm and welcoming community centre, Haeata, a truly beautiful place.

 

What more reason could you have for getting stuck into the Give Better challenge.

Categories: Our Vision

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