New Zealand

Caritas and St Vincent de Paul Society bring winter warmth to Christchurch residents

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Caritas is helping provide warm winter clothing for Christchurch residents left out in the cold following the February earthquake. Caritas is partnering with the St Vincent de Paul Society and a Christchurch clothing company for the project.

Through donations received nationally on behalf of Christchurch earthquake relief, Caritas is granting $95,450 to the St Vincent de Paul Society to provide warm polypropylene clothing to an estimated 1,000 adults and 2,000 children in Christchurch. The project is aimed at people living in homes below the recommended healthy temperature of 21 degrees Celsius.

Caritas Director Mike Smith says it is highly unusual for the Catholic aid agency to be supporting humanitarian relief within New Zealand, but the Christchurch quake is exceptional. Caritas is working along with other international development agencies to offer their expertise and assessment abilities.

'This project fits well with our criteria,' says Mr Smith. 'It supports the most vulnerable people in a time of crisis and has looked for local solutions and providers.'

The clothing is being manufactured by Christchurch knitting and thermal wear company WEFT, and will be distributed by St Vincent de Paul volunteers.

'Many homes will be without adequate heating this coming winter as a result of the quake,' says St Vincent de Paul Society CEO, Anne-Marie McCarten. 'Some were already vulnerable or living in poorly heated homes prior to the quake. So with this initiative we aim to help particularly vulnerable individuals and families keep warm through the winter.

'We are providing 3,000 units of polypropylene crewneck tops and pants for adults and children. Additional clothing will be provided upon request. The clothing will be distributed to those who are most in need, by our Christchurch Vincentians as part of their home-to-home visitation, and through referrals from medical agencies,' says Ms McCarten.

In response to the Christchurch quakes, Caritas has also supported counselling services offered by Catholic Social Services, and the Express Mini-Loos project organised by Rangiora Community Cares. Read more on the Caritas response to Christchurch.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of the New Zealand NGO Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF), cooperating with the Government to respond to the Christchurch quake. It is also part of the Caritas Internationalis confederation of 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies.

For more information contact Martin de Jong +64-4-496 1782 or +64-21-909 688.