The St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria (Vinnies Victoria) has launched its Christmas Appeal.
This year the Appeal highlights the fact that many families will be left behind this Christmas as economic recovery from the pandemic lags and the government’s crisis payments end.
While life as we knew it gradually begins to return, thousands of people will struggle to feel positive about the future unless they receive vital further support from Vinnies.
“I wish I could say it’s going to be a hopeful Christmas for everyone this year, after the ending of the lockdowns,” says Sue Cattermole, CEO of Vinnies Victoria.
“But the reality is it won’t, and the need is significant because vulnerable households now have additional pressures this Christmas due to the impact of the lockdowns.
“For people who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic who have been relying on the now discontinued government payments, their immediate outlook is dim.”
As latest ABS unemployment figures hit 5.2%, Vinnies Victoria says it expects that calls for assistance will begin to rise again.
According to the 2020 Poverty in Australia Overview by ACOSS and UNSW, 1 in 8 Australians – and 1 in 6 children – are living in poverty. And that was before the pandemic began.
“Scores of families and individuals are coming to us every day in urgent need of help,” says Ms Cattermole.
“Many could never have imagined the pressures they’re facing, and they’re worried they won’t be able to feed their families, let alone keep a roof over their heads.
“These are desperate and painful times for many,” she adds.
According to Ms Cattermole, “the rise in unemployment figures suggest that it will be some time before the economy recovers”.
“The fact that this is happening just before Christmas, when demand for our services typically goes up anyway, means the ‘festive season’ will be stressful for many families,” she says.
Vinnies Victoria volunteers and services have kept working throughout the pandemic, providing assistance to people in need.
Their Soup Van services served 550,000 meals last year – more than double the year previously.
The public’s support is vital so that Vinnies Victoria can keep supplying food, clothes, accommodation, case work for homelessness and domestic violence, and more.
“It has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but I encourage people who can to donate generously to our Christmas Appeal this year,” says Ms Cattermole.
To support the Vinnies Christmas Appeal go to donate.vinnies.org.au/christmas-appeal or call 13 18 12.