Social Justice Advocacy

Social Justice is all about breaking down barriers that prevent people from being heard and from accessing what they need.

Our advocates will support you to do this, as well as working with you to help develop your skills for self-advocating in future.


Social Justice Advocacy

Anglican Care South Canterbury’s (ACSC) Social Justice work began in mid-2014 when Ruth Swale was employed to write an initial report on ‘Significant Social Justice Issues in South Canterbury.’

There were three main issues identified

The findings that emerged from this report have led directly to the social justice initiatives described in ‘Teams in Action’.

Issue One

Barriers facing people who are attempting to access the services they need.

Issue Two

Churches needing ongoing encouragement and direction to help them engage with the biblical mandate to promote social justice.

Issue Three

Sub-standard housing, and the need for social change to achieve warm, dry and safe housing.

The Advocacy Group

The Advocacy Group is two-fold

One-to-one Support

Offering the support of a one-to-one advocate for appointments which you are too stressed to handle on your own, and assisting you when you are facing barriers to accessing the services you need.

Empowering Workshops

Encouraging people through learning new skills, and giving you the opportunity to share with others who are going through similar issues. Ultimately you will be able to self-advocate, and help other people too.

The Advocacy Group

Ruth Swale coordinates this group. She collaborated with Bettina Mielenz from 2015-2017, during which time Bettina presented our public workshops in the smaller SC towns. Alexia Bensemann is continuing to present our public workshops in Timaru. An equally vital part of The Advocacy Group service is our team of volunteer advocates who are available to offer 1-to-1 support. From small beginnings in Timaru in July 2015, we have now extended The Advocacy Group’s services to include Waimate and Temuka as well, and potentially elsewhere in future.


Teams in Action

Our Social Justice Advocate’s role involves working with people seeking support and volunteers, as well as networking with a variety of other agencies. Several initiatives have emerged so far, each with its own particular focus (see below), and more projects are anticipated in future.


Marchwiel Social Justice Initiative

This was our first social justice initiative in South Canterbury, which got underway at the end of 2014. It started as a 3-way partnership between ACSC, a dedicated team of volunteers from Marchwiel Anglican parish, and Oceanview Heights Primary School. It is now a self-sustaining partnership between the parish and the school.

This initiative is ongoing in its aims for working with the school in the following ways:

  1. To raise funds for the school’s Reading Recovery programme, with support from Pandora’s opportunity shop;
  2. To build relationships with the children and their whanau;
  3. To encourage more family participation to help build the school community.

Child Poverty Art Exhibition

We brought ‘The Big Picture’ Child Poverty art exhibition to South Canterbury (Timaru, Temuka and Waimate) in 2016, and introduced a Living Wage awareness campaign in 2015.

We continue to respond to other social justice issues as they come to our attention.


Tenancy Link

Developed in October 2016, Tenancy Link has grown out of The Advocacy Group’s model to provide specific assistance for resolving issues arising between landlords and tenants. One of our team will support either a tenant or a landlord who is experiencing any problems to help them get their conversation started again.

The aims are:

  1. To encourage ‘self-resolution’ as the preferred first option rather than defaulting to the Tenancy Tribunal
  2. To start improving the standards of housing generally.

With the assistance of a neutral third party, it is possible to work towards negotiating a win-win outcome for all concerned.


Hello, I'm Ruth Swale

Social justice advocate for Anglican Care South Canterbury (Master of Arts)

I have always had a natural empathy with those who are disempowered in various ways. As a result, throughout my working life in both Timaru and Auckland, I’ve been involved with IHC, the Blind Foundation, Baptist City Mission, as well as in aged care, mental health and tutoring new migrants. My current role allows me to fully focus on standing alongside people when they are facing stressful situations, helping empower them to overcome the obstacles in their way.