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How it's going - impact and outcomes to date

Since the Street Guardians programme began in 2018, there’s been demonstrable benefits including to those participating as well as the community initiatives which the programme supports.

After the programme was expanded to two days a week in 2020 – with support from the Ministry of Social Development - Street Guardians has more than doubled its impact.

Participants include people begging in the city centre, those currently homeless in and around the central area, and those recently housed through Housing First

Each day the programme operates, up to 12 people head out to do mahi with a range of community organisations to undertake activities such as wetland restoration, planting and sorting goods for sale. 

The programme has been incredibly well received by the participants and the community organisations involved.  Street Guardians is so popular amongst participants that it's often oversubscribed, with a waitlist in place.

The Street Guardians programme is delivered by the Auckland City Mission, with community partners including EcoMatters, Kaipātiki Forum, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei  and The Tipping Point, who say:

"We are consistently impressed with the team...the store looked remarkable by the end of the day. Customers and staff were all giving positive feedback. Thanks again for your help with this program, we are big fans." 

The impact and outcomes achieved to date:

An award-winning contribution towards environmental outcomes in Auckland

In 2021, the Street Guardians programme received a Highly Commended award at the Mayoral Conservation Awards in the Collaboration Category.

Each year, Street Guardians contribute thousands of  volunteer hours towards conservation efforts. 

  • Cared for extensive areas of riverbank at Project Twin Streams in Glen Eden and streamsides in Kelston and New Lynn.  This has entailed weeding, planting, water quality monitoring, stream clean-ups.

  • Laid 4+ truckloads of mulch around natives, weeded land and around harakeke at Kaipātiki Project.

  • Helped prepare several community and educational gardens. 

  • Significant and regular contribution at Te Ara Awataha: cleared an enormous amount of bamboo and reused it for a retaining wall and a community garden. Since the restoration began, there’s been an increase in birds, even kōura. 

  • Helped divert tonnes of materials from landfill at the Tipping Point to be recycled.

  • Involvement in the restoration of the Jessie Tonar Scout Reserve – a video about this is available here.

Building strong connections between participants and community groups

The Street Guardians programme provides good opportunities for both participants and community groups to connect and regular activity strengthens these connections with each other.

Pamela Gill from Ecomatters says:

"EcoMatters Environment Trust and the local communities of Glen Eden, New Lynn, and Kelston have benefited from the support of the Street Guardians. Their contribution to the care of our streamside environment in these areas has been amazing. It is such a pleasure to work with such an engaged and hard-working crew who often sit on the fringes of our communities but with this work, they are an integral and appreciated group that supports our environment and community.  Their desire to learn about their environment is heartening. They all love water quality monitoring and gaining a better understanding of what impacts the health of our environment and how they too, can look after te taiao. Their impact in conservation work is visible and important.” 

Adding Value and Purpose

As a pathway to stable work
Street Guardians continues to prove its value to those who would otherwise be begging or being on the street, those setting out to help them, and community organisations. Participants have told us they feel a sense of purpose when they take part in the programme.

Participants make enquiries about CV help and pathways to work most weeks. Some have also made their way to employment as a step towards stable, long-term work, including working on the recently completed Auckland City Mission’s Homeground development and going on to do work with Lifewise’s social enterprise initiatives.

Provides positive personal impact

Less tangible, but equally as important is the personal impact Street Guardians has on people's lives. This has been reflected in the participants and community organisations involved with the project. 

Community partners have reported seeing:

  • Interest in learning new skills towards future work.

  • Friendly and polite interactions with the public.

  • Dedication to their work. 

  • Readiness to support others in the group and work as a team.

  • Interest in making an impact over time.

A community organisation involved with the Street Guardians noted:

“One of the guys said he sees these days as an opportunity to get ‘his mind and body ready for work'. He reckons that after so long of having no routines or proper activity, training himself up is an important step." 

While the Kaipātiki Project's Neil Henderson recounted a participant saying:

‘I've always seen my grandmother weaving, but I never knew about all the different plants - how to get them ready for her or even why they have to be planted in certain places. It was really good."

He continues:

"The team love to be in the outdoors and the native bush, but the cultural aspect of the day made it truly special.  Another participant said that they like ‘working as a group [and]the fact we’re doing something worthwhile together outside of the city.’ Some of the women in the programme find it deeply healing and rewarding to work on and around harakeke. Others enjoy the physical work of clearing. They affectionately call it their ‘good, clean, dirty work."

In participants own words: 

“Getting back into work and doing skills, learning, developing skills that we already have, and your development is the best thing. And, better understanding what people’s skills are and seeing what they’re good at so maybe they could do more about it. Such as if you like outdoor work can you do that and show it on your CV. We could get Worksafe certifications.” – Kevin

"I haven't been happy like this for a long time, and I love it." - Street Guardian Participant

“Learning how to work in the community again, being with the whānau, and our community. It’s awesome doing the mahi and gardening is massive for the body.”Richard

Media coverage:
Auckland's Heart of the City initiative helps homeless find their way -Seven Sharp

Street Guardians mahi underway 

  • Tipping Point
  • EcoMatters