Relief demand rises

The team at Helping Hands Mission are doing their part to keep up with rising demand. Pictured are Joanne Moore and Adam Volpato. (Damjan Janevski) 407723_01

Hannah Hammoud

If you are part of any community Facebook page it is likely you have seen posts asking for donations of food and essential items.

With cost-of-living pressures continuing to rise, residents have been turning to these online communities to help fill the gaps left from social services and restricted-hour charity availability.

Neighbourhood houses and foodbanks across Brimbank offer much-needed relief for locals, including Helping Hands Mission (HHM) which runs two community food pantries in Sunshine and Airport West and can be accessed by anyone with a healthcare card.

Helping Hands Mission chief executive Melanie Gill said in her 17 years of providing food relief, demand has never been greater.

“On average, we are currently receiving 10 to 15 new registrations for our community pantry program each day which means demand is at an all-time high for us. We are currently squeezing in more than 70 families at each of our pantries and this figure doesn’t include walk ins, which means we are providing food for approximately 150 families every day.

“There are a lot of new faces – people who have never been part of the food relief process before, and people who don’t have a Centrelink card.

“Everything is going up, from rents and mortgages to the cost of groceries and petrol. There are a lot of families who are living week to week. People are scraping by and all of a sudden there could be an emergency like a car or fridge breakdown and that means you can’t afford food.”

Ms Gill encouraged anyone who is struggling to reach out for help.

“Please just put your hand up and ask for help. We work really hard to try to make sure our place is as welcoming and supportive as possible. We have a one page registration form to make it easy,” she said.

“Our whole organisation is built around providing this service – it’s here – there is no shame.”

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