Demand for financial assistance is expected to increase two-fold this Christmas across hardest-hit areas like Brimbank in the wake of COVID-19.
The Salvation Army is launching its annual Christmas Appeal, aiming to raise $12 million to ensure those in need have all they need over the festive season after a devastating year of bushfires, drought and coronavirus.
Sunshine branch captain Colin Reynolds said there had already been significant demand for financial and emergency services in the lead up to Christmas.
“Many are living below the poverty line in Brimbank and doing it very tough, struggling to afford the necessities,” Captain Reynolds said.
“We are anticipating a much larger increase in demand this year as a result of COVID-19.
“Christmas is normally a busy time for the Salvation Army and there’s always a demand there for assistance services, but because of such high job losses this year, people will be struggling.”
In the past 12 months, The Salvation Army has helped 80,000 people impacted by COVID-19 and provided over $10 million worth of financial assistance.
“The high demand for our services is consistent with the journey that we’ve been on,” Captain Reynolds said.
“We’ve noted that the scope of people that we have assisted has been much wider.
“We would normally cater for those on lower incomes, whether they be elderly or found themselves without work.
“But with COVID, we’ve had people that, by their own admission, have said that they have never had to access assistance before and it has been a very humbling experience for us as well as them.”
This year will also see increased numbers of people spending the Christmas period alone, due to the impact of COVID-19, Captain Reynolds said.
“For us based in Sunshine, we normally offer the Christmas Day lunch where we would have 100 to 120 people sit down for lunch… that won’t happen this year because of COVID restrictions.
“We will instead focus on our hamper and emergency food provisions to deliver to those people who need them.
“We are asking for people to give generously in terms of non-perishable food and essential items because there will be significantly more hampers needed to cater for everyone.”
At Christmas, The Salvation Army’s teams will distribute more than 30,000 hampers and vouchers, give out over $1.3 million worth of gifts and toys and support more than 50,000 Australian families in need.
For financial and emergency assistance, reach out to The Salvation Army’s national financial support service on 1300 371 288 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday).
Donate to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal at 42 Devonshire Road, Sunshine.