More than 100 rough sleepers are turning up regularly for a free Monday night meal in the Tauranga CBD.
Street Kai gets together every Monday for ‘Milo Night’ at the Willow St bus stop, providing Tauranga’s vulnerable community with hot food, warm clothes, connections and a cuppa.
It is run by nine volunteers, who are now calling for more helpers to join the crew and meet rising demand. More than 100 rough sleepers are regularly showing up this winter.
Founder Tracey Carlton started ‘Milo Night’ in 2017. This winter she has seen a massive spike in the number of people showing up for a hot meal.
When the initiative started the team was caring for about 20 homeless.
“The youngest person we currently care for is 16, and the oldest is 68-years-old. We have men and women from every age group, every culture and every walk of life. They are all very hungry, cold people to tell you the truth.
“Recently, for the first time, we had more than 20 homeless women at our meal. That is new for us and is deeply concerning.”
Tracey says the team are in desperate need of additional volunteers willing to spare their time.
“Were a bloody good bunch of eggs, and we need more vollies [volunteers], people that would love to step up with us.
“Bring yourselves, be present, and come forward with caring for your community. It’s about saying we see you, we hear you, and we stand with you.”
“There’s definitely been a public shift in awareness. Lots of people are being more considerate and kind towards the community.”
“Sometimes people haven’t known where to go with their kindness, but now they can bring it to the bus stop.”
Our Place Tauranga and The Breeze are also teaming up with Street Kai encouraging the wider community to donate warm and practical gear.
“We are needs based. We ask our beautiful people: ‘what do you need?’ And right now, they are really cold. We are just asking for good kit, good sensible warm Kiwi kit,” says Tracy.
The group is collecting beanies, scarves, gloves, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, socks, hoodies and track pants.
All items can be dropped at the Pacific Toyota container at Our Place from Tuesdays till Sundays until July 12.
For more information about how you can support Street Kai, visit: www.streetkai.org