I had a good friend who worked at Parliament in various roles in the catering services over a number of years. I saw her almost every day. She always made me and many other people feel welcome and she went to extra effort to make sure we received quality service. She was also a really great person to laugh with and to have fun while she still kept an eye on everything she was responsible for.
When she told me she was leaving I was sad but when she told me why, I was angry. She said she could not go on couch surfing with a teenage son. She said her wages were insufficient to pay for a two bedroom place for them. She said it was damaging her son to be so transient. They are going to Perth where their whanau say they can help them live somewhere with a bedroom for a teenage boy. After two years without her own place my friend has had enough.
I am ashamed that a job at Parliament, any job, is not enough for a sole parent to pay the rent in Wellington. I am disappointed that a hard-working, inspiring colleague has had to leave her job and this country to hold her family together. We all lose when this happens. When I asked my friend if I could write about her story, she said that was fine as she had nothing to lose.
We have lost a great member of our Parliament community because there is an affordable housing crisis. Renters need rights and working women need enough money to provide for their kids. Otherwise, what is the point of Parliament?
Parliament’s catering services are contracted to Epicure, a division of Spotless Group.