Every day across New Zealand, Orange Sky volunteers have conversations on our six orange chairs that support people doing it tough. We recently commissioned a YouGov study to help shine a light on the challenges faced by Kiwis today, which revealed that a growing number of New Zealanders are struggling to make ends meet. So, let’s talk about it…

More than 41,000 Kiwis were experiencing homelessness at the time of the 2018 Census, but new research has exposed the vulnerability of many New Zealanders in 2021 and growing number of people who are doing it tough. More than one in five (21%) Kiwis have personally experienced homelessness, while 19% know someone who has. Worryingly, half (51%) of New Zealanders say they struggle to make ends meet at least once a year, with one in five (20%) struggling to make ends meet each and every week.

This past year has been particularly challenging, with the pandemic impacting mental health and economic hardships across New Zealand. More than half (51%) of the population struggled to pay their bills, with 15 per cent admitting they’ve had to forgo meals to make rental payments. Despite this, nearly one in four (23%) say they have felt too ashamed to ask for help.

Orange Sky supports people who find themselves doing it tough by providing a safe and welcoming place on shift to sit down and connect. Homelessness is a complex issue, and while we don’t have all the answers, we aim to positively connect people through free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation. From many years sitting around our orange chairs on shift, we’ve learnt just how easily a simple conversation can impact a person’s life.

We know that for many, homelessness can happen in the blink of an eye; in the past year, one in five (18%) Kiwis say they have felt isolated from their community.

There’s never been a more important time to support Kiwis doing it tough. For the first time this year, we’ve launched The Sudsy Challenge in New Zealand – an initiative that aims to wash away the stigmas surrounding homelessness by challenging people to wear the same clothes for three days, talk about homelessness and raise funds and awareness for Orange Sky.

New Zealand Operations Manager, Eddie Uini, said that while clean clothes can make a world of difference to someone’s life, it’s the hours of conversation and genuine connections made with Orange Sky friends that make the biggest impact.

“Orange Sky has given me the opportunity to not only help people doing it tough by providing essential services, but also allowed me to connect and support them on a more genuine level,” said Eddie.

“The Sudsy Challenge is a fun and easy way for Kiwis to step out of their comfort zone and support those in the community who are experiencing homelessness. Through conversation and raising awareness, we have an opportunity to support our friends doing it tough.”