There is no good time of the year to be experiencing homelessness. But for those doing it tough, the holiday season can serve as a difficult reminder of social disconnection and isolation. It’s hard seeing other people celebrating and having family holidays – especially when you’re not even safe or comfortable. 

The 2018 census showed that over 41,600 people across Aotearoa were experiencing homelessness. One in six New Zealanders have experienced homelessness before, with one in five saying they know someone who has. For Kiwis across the country, the increasing cost of living can be the difference between putting food on the table or taking clothes to the laundromat. There’s no denying that times are tough, and getting tougher.

Orange Sky’s mahi is simple, yet it makes a huge difference for those doing it tough. We can’t fix homelessness alone. But we can help ease the load through providing free laundry, warm showers and genuine, non-judgmental kōrero in a safe space. Every year, we operate more than 350 shifts across the motu, with a passionate team of over 300 volunteers committed to making a difference in our communities. 

Whilst access to laundry and shower services is essential, it’s the conversations we share on our six orange chairs that have the greatest impact for those who use our services (who we call ‘friends’). With the support of your donation, our volunteers can continue to be there for our friends, like John, throughout this holiday season.

John is a former military man, Te Whanganui-a-Tara local and friend of Orange Sky. John currently lives in his car, and has been – on and off – for the past decade. He has been on the waiting list for six years to find a place to call home, something that is only becoming more difficult with the increased cost of living. Like a lot of Kiwis, he’s the resilient sort. As he puts it, “I can survive. I can survive anywhere.”

John first heard about Orange Sky in 2019 from the news. As is often the case, it was the laundry services that brought him to his first shift. Very quickly, John’s visits became more than just doing his washing – the weekly kōrero with the volunteers, like Adam, is what he most looks forward to. 

Adam first met John over four years ago when he began volunteering with Orange Sky in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

John’s been so open and warm with us, but also is an incredibly respectful person. That makes it a lovely relationship. It’s always a pleasure to see him,” said Adam.

“I think some of the misconceptions in the community about people experiencing homelessness is that they are somehow different, but they’re not. They’re going through a tough time, but they’re no different from people who aren’t, and other people who are perhaps experiencing more fortunate circumstances.”

But John doesn’t let these tough times take his dignity or compassion for others away. He is an active member of his community and church, always pitching in to help others through volunteering and simple acts of kindness. Despite having so little for himself, he still gives so much.

John is 1 in 41,600. That’s the number of Kiwis experiencing homelessness according to the 2018 Census – it’s likely even higher now. By giving to Orange Sky this holiday season, you’ll be making a huge difference for people who are doing it tough, just like John. 

Help provide connection these holidays for people like John.
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