Latest Event Updates

Health charter to be delivered to parliament.

Posted on

United Community Action Network (UCAN) press release

For immediate release

Monday 14 August at 7am

Health charter to be delivered to parliament

The United Community Action Network (UCAN) will deliver it’s health charter to parliament tomorrow, Tuesday 14 August at 1230pm on parliament grounds.

The College of Nurses, low-cost health providers, The Equality and Living Wage Networks and the Public Health Association Wellington branch are some of the groups who have signed the charter.

The charter calls for the right to: health care, a living income, a safe and healthy home, the ability to take party in society, a safe environment and an education.

UCAN is a national grassroots health rights organisation based in Wellington.

The group’s spokesperson, Debbie Leyland, says the growing gap between rich and poor sits next to health under funding as the country’s biggest health concerns.

“More and more people are being denied health care because they can’t afford it,” she says. “Poor housing, homelessness and low wages and benefits are as big a health problem as our growing waiting lists and number of people who need surgery but can’t get on a list.”

New Zealand has enough wealth to provide for all citizens but wealth is “poorly distributed”, she says.

“The provision of basic rights for all citizens just isn’t a priority.”

Leyland is calling on all political parties to support the charter.

Labour party finance spokesperson, Grant Robertson, Green Party social development spokesperson Jan Logie will speak at the presentation alongside representatives from Child Poverty Action Group, The Equality Network and The Living Wage Network.

ENDS

Presenting the Health Charter to Parliament

Posted on Updated on

UCAN has organized a gathering at Parliament steps on Tuesday 15 August, at 12.30, to present the aspirational Health Charter to elected MPs.

Members of UCAN will be presenting the UCAN Health Charter and the UCAN Election statement to members of parliament on the steps of the beehive to Labour MP Grant Robertson and Green MP Jan Logie.

We will then hear from Jan Logie and Grant Robertson on their acceptance of the UCAN Health Charter and statement.

There will also be comment from The Equality Network and The Living Wage movement.

Please come and join us for this event

Report from Radio NZ on Equality Network presentation

Posted on

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 10.34.18 AM.pngGood coverage from Radio NZ on the presentation of the Equality Network‘s Election Statement.

It is essential that the issue of reducing inequality remains forefront with an election breathing down our necks. Any inaction on concrete and committed longterm planning to reduce inequalities will continue to have long-reaching impacts for those who live in the harshest of conditions in Aotearoa.

It is essential to keep the pressure up.

Image: Screenshot of Radio NZ page

Presentation at the launch of Equality Network Election Statement

Posted on Updated on

Debbie Leyland_UCANDebbie Leyland spoke on the step of Parliament voicing endorsement of the Election Statement launched by the Equality Network. Attached is the text of Debbie speech.

“We believe it is possible for all New Zealanders to enjoy a decent life, one where everyone thrives. But we recognise that big imbalances of income and wealth have been deeply destructive and unfair. They corrode our social fabric and limit the life chances of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. Combined with other inequalities – such as those of gender and ethnicity – they damage lives and deepen disadvantage.” Equality Network, Election Statement 2017


My name is Debbie Leyland. I am 53 years old and I am on a benefit. I am also the co-founder, coordinator and spokesperson for UCAN – United Community Action Network, and I am on the steering group of the Equality Network – both of which are voluntary roles.

Every week  after i pay rent power and bills I am left with $70 a week.

The sad thing is, among my friends I’m considered rich.

My $70 covers my weekly food, transport, medication and doctor’s fees. It’s really hard.

Most weeks I’m also helping out my family – putting $10 into my daughter or son’s account, or buying them a top up card or whatever they need.

My daughter has carpal tunnel syndrome which affects her hands so she can’t work. She has an 8-month old baby. Her and her partner are on a benefit, and they are left with just $102  a week after power and rent, to support two adults. and my 8 month old grandchild – $102.  for food and everything else including nappies.

A few weeks ago my daughter was over here, and I found some money under the bed. I asked her what we should buy as a treat, and we both said peaches! It was like we’d won lotto. Who can afford to buy fruit? No one that I know. I haven’t seen a full fruit bowl, in the house of anyone I know, for years.

We bought some cauliflower the other day and we were in heaven, it was like Christmas. I’d love to be able to fill my cupboards with fresh vegetables and food so when my family come I could feed them a really wholesome meal. My fridge is empty. I’ve got a can of baked beans and a can of tomatoes. I haven’t bought a block of cheese for months. It’s too expensive.

I’m on the invalid’s benefits because I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to things that happened during my childhood. I suffer from depression and anxiety. It’s very difficult but I’m at a level now where I’m well and I can maintain my life. But sometimes I can’t afford my medication, because I don’t have enough money, and then I become really unwell.

I feel like being on a benefit has impacted on my life hugely. The saddest thing for me is the reaction when I’m working out in the community. There’s a lot of people who, when you say you are a beneficiary, think you are either a bludger, or lazy, or whatever. The second part is the financial restraints – it is nearly impossible to live on that amount of money. People frame being on the benefit as a choice. I didn’t wake up and think “I’m going to go on the benefit and live in complete poverty for the rest of my life.” I didn’t ask to be here.

Every day I have to make choices. Do I go to the doctor or do I feed the kids? It’s an ongoing battle. I used to go out and about, and now I don’t.  The last time I actually went out with my friends was 2 and a half years ago. I can’t do things that people take for granted like going out as a family for dinner, or going out to entertainment. It’s really hard.

It was my granddaughter’s birthday the other day, and I just didn’t have enough money to buy her a present or even to go out to Porirua to see her.  I just had to ring her and say happy birthday. I’d like to be able to take my daughter or grandchildren for a walk through the town belt but they can’t afford the train fare from Porirua, and i can’t afford to get out there. Being on the benefit really creates distance within families.

Being on a benefit and being in a Housing Corp house creates a community of fear. If something happens in my house, nothing ever gets done. After the big earthquake, my bedroom door fell off. They haven’t come to fix that. The toilet upstairs leaks, my windows have mould all over them and I have to wash them every few days. You can’t lock the front door – it’s been like that for about a year. I had my granddaughter over here 2 weeks ago, and she kicked a ball through the window. I rang housing corp and they sent someone over to board up the window. It’s been three weeks and they still haven’t fixed it. But you don’t want to kick up too much fuss because there’s a constant worry that they might throw you out.

I hate going to WINZ. There’s nothing more humiliating than having to go to WINZ and ask a complete stranger for money. It’s horrible. When I went to WINZ to get some help with a washing machine, my appointment was at 2 o’clock, but I didn’t get to see my case manager until 3.30. People think that if you are on the benefit your time is not important and you have nothing better to do. What about the people who have to pick up their kids from school? My local WINZ in Kilburnie has moved to Newtown, so if you need assistance or a grant or medicine you have to walk to Newtown. That has affected so many people. We just don’t go now. It’s too far to walk.

I’m asking the Government to increase benefits.  By increasing the benefit and providing fairer income support it would mean that I could actually partake in society. I could spend more time with my family,  I would be able to eat a healthy diet. I could go to the doctor when I need to. I could have some dignity.

Getting special or an emergency benefit for example a food grant, as cash would make life so much easier.  It would mean I could buy veggies at the Newtown market, cheap Indian grains at places like the Spice Market, and shop around for cheap heaters that I want.  Plus, the cards that WINZ gives you are only valid for three days. So in the middle of winter when it’s pouring with rain, you have to walk in the rain to the shops and back with your shopping – all because your card can’t be used on the bus and you don’t have spare money. It’s a real struggle.

I think that that’s why the Equality Network is so important, it keeps these issues at the forefront of what is going on. That’s why I’m involved. It gives a voice to people that don’t have any. I want people to realise that beneficiaries are human beings and that decisions made in parliament affect all of us. It’s tragic to think that we’ve gone from Joseph Savage, who set up social welfare so all citizens could have a decent quality of life, to this – where we are living on crumbs, and having to feel grateful. I ask the Government to be brave and act with courage. To support people like myself to have a decent quality of life.

Thank you.

An invitation to the Health Funding Crisis Forums

Posted on

EventPhotoHelp make Health Funding an Election issue

Join the greatest health minds and activists to make health funding a key election issue.

YesWeCare.nz and United Community Action Network [UCAN] invite you to Health Funding Crisis Forums on Saturday 1st July from 10 am – 3.30 pm.

Our main forum will be held in Christchurch. It will be streamed online to events in Auckland, Wellington, any self-hosted events and online for those who can’t attend an event or where there isn’t one yet. (Want to host an event in your town?)

The pre-election budget is out and the smoke and mirrors around health funding has cleared.

Without action, more Kiwis are going to miss out on the mental and physical health care they need, when they need it.

That’s where you come in.

We’ve invited the most active community groups, workplace and health activists to work on a grassroots election plan.

Campaigning has made mental health a key election issue. We need to keep the pressure up and make physical health funding a key election issue as well.

At the forum, you’ll:

  • Hear about the latest research on unmet need and health underfunding,
  • How campaigning made mental health a key election issue, and
  • Learn how to get your story in the media, or
  • Discover how our new health and safety laws can fix unsafe workloads.

We’ll provide lunch. You’ll provide the energy.

For more information visit: http://yeswecare.nz/forums

RSVP here before June 23 for catering purposes.

What are your top three election priorities?

At the conference, we’ll be announcing three health pledges we want all parties, candidates and politicians to commit to in this election. We’re crowd-sourcing the asks and need your help to develop them.

If you or your organisation will struggle with travel costs, please let YesWeCare.nz know. They have a small fund to help.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Nāku noa, nā.
Simon Oosterman
YesWeCare.nz Campaign Coordinator
simon.oosterman@psa.org.nz
027 526 8704

and
Pat Bolster & Debbie Leyland
On behalf of UCAN
United Community Action Network
pat.bolster@actrix.co.

Action Groups work jointly on Child Poverty

Posted on Updated on

PRESS RELEASE 21-4-17

UCAN, United Community Action Network’s Health Charter has received endorsement from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

CPAG, an independent charity established in 1994, has maintained a robust focus on the elimination of poverty for the children of Aotearoa. Doctors, teachers, academics, healthcare workers and many other committed people contribute to the body of research and reportage that CPAG produces.

Approximately three hundred thousand children live in poverty in Aotearoa. If you add to this the older siblings, parents, extended family and whanau, the burden of poverty escalates. The long term impacts of poverty are widely documented: the tragic loss of potential of the children; increased difficulty in accessing affordable physical and mental healthcare; the increase in incidence of domestic violence; poorer educational outcomes; limited access to decent accommodation; and the tailspin of homelessness. This is an avoidable situation. There needs to be a willingness to engage, innovate, and reduce the impacts of these situations for the benefit of all.

CPAG states “child poverty could be eliminated completely. It’s all about Choice.” UCAN agrees, and this unfolding disaster is a failure of political policy and loss of values based politics.

UCAN spokesperson, Debbie Leyland, says, “These conditions need to be considered as the escalating crisis that it is. It’s brilliant, but also a tragedy, that organisations like CPAG are active and necessary. They are essential in these times to document and report the struggles of the most vulnerable among us. There is something seriously broken in New Zealand.”

ENDS

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) Press Release.

Posted on Updated on

Please see the press release from Child Poverty Action Group(CPAG) who have published this endorsement of the UCAN Health Charter. We thank CPAG for their ongoing commitment and advocacy to improving the health and wellbeing of children, and the families they live within, in Aotearoa.


CPAGSupport for UCAN NZ Health Charter

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) supports and endorses the Health Charter by the United Communities Action Network New Zealand (UCAN) that says “everyone deserves the right to health”.

UCAN, an organisation formed four years ago, believes that the right to health is, “being denied to many in Aotearoa-New Zealand, through poor access to health services, an unfair economic and education system that strongly favours the wealthy over the poor.”

CPAG agrees that much of the poor health among children in New Zealand is attributable  to  “inadequate and unhealthy housing, poor living environments that alienate vulnerable sections of the community.”

The link between poverty and poor mental and physical health among children, whose opportunities to thrive are compromised, is very real. Professor Innes Asher, Health Spokesperson for CPAG says that “poverty and unhealthy housing and inadequate basic health care are the drivers behind many of the thousands of children admitted to hospital each year with preventable diseases.

“Comprehensive effective policies are needed to change this grim situation which results in large numbers of children, many of whom are babies, becoming very sick and who often suffer lifelong damage.”

CPAG says that UCAN promoting the right to healthcare that is not met with a cost barrier is a commendable effort, and aligns with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which New Zealand ratified 24 years ago.

CPAG notes with great concern that over half a million New Zealanders cannot afford to see their GPs.  We are asking that the Government extends the zero fees scheme for free access to General Practice to include all children up to their 18th birthdays.

This would be one of the measures needed toward a goal of halving the number of hospital admissions for preventable illness among children – which is currently around 40,000 annually.

The UCAN Health Charter (2016) also supports everyone having the right to affordable, safe and healthy housing.

CPAG hopes that there will be a greater commitment by the New Zealand Government to ensuring that every family has access to an affordable, healthy home. Instituting a rental Warrant of Fitness to ensure that a minimum standard is met and that homes are made to be safe, dry, and insulated would be a step toward ensuring better health for all children of low-income families.

Follow this link to download a pdf version of the UCAN Health Charter. Ends