With the highest unemployment rate in the country before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, restrictions imposed to safeguard the community have further impacted the South Australian economy, leading more people from all walks of life to seek urgent help from The Salvation Army.
The call for help comes as The Salvos prepare for the annual Red Shield Appeal weekend (May 23 and 24) which supports personal hardship services across the country.
More than 44,000 jobs* in the state were lost in the first three weeks of restrictions being imposed and The Salvos have remained committed to delivering emergency support to those who need it most, despite the need for extensive changes to the way they operate.
“In Noarlunga we’ve started to provide support services via telephone instead of face-to-face in our offices. We’ve also introduced a new initiative where people in need can ring and receive food vouchers via email or request delivery of a food hamper if they are isolated,” says Captain Robert Casburn, Noarlunga Corps Head Officer.
“People from more affluent suburbs are contacting us for the first time after losing their jobs and needing an urgent hand up. We expect to see the number of people who require assistance increase even more once the Government’s JobKeeper and additional funds under JobSeeker conclude in the coming months,” says Captain Casburn.
In response to COVID-19 restrictions, The Salvos in Port Lincoln have started a drive-through welfare service which runs every Monday and Wednesday morning, providing fresh bread, fruit, meat and pantry items.
“We encourage anyone in the local community who needs emergency food assistance to reach out. We’re also delivering food hampers to those who call us and ask for help,” says Captain David Lloyd, Port Lincoln Corps Head Officer.
“Unlike many community organisations, we’re still keeping the doors open to help those in need – we’re just serving people in innovative, new ways and adapting through this crisis.”
The Savlos and Copper Coast Council have been working together to support isolated people during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing a shopping delivery service, with The Salvos coordinating all home deliveries and visits.
“Anyone requiring assistance should contact us and we can organise the delivery of an essential care pack,” says Captain Karen Armstrong, Copper Coast Corps Head Officer.
“Our shower block is also still open Monday to Friday. Those who need to access this service are provided with a hygiene pack which includes a towel and toiletries,” she says.
The Salvation Army’s free financial counselling service Moneycare has supported 5,454 community members across South Australia over the last 12 months, with a steady increase in need from a wide cross-section of the community over recent weeks.
“This increase in requests for help mostly stems from loss of employment, the need for food and concerns about how to pay the rent,” says Sharon Maslen, Program Manager, The Salvos Statewide Financial Counselling Services.
“I think the full impact of COVID-19 has yet to be seen and this is the calm before the storm. Now, more than ever, we’re relying on the generosity of Australians to support our annual Red Shield Appeal, so we can help even more people in need during these unprecedented times.
“For the first time in its 55-year history, our traditional door-knock is running online this year, due to COVID-19,” she says.
To leave no one in need, please make a tax-deductible donation at salvationarmy.org.au or call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58). The national target is $35 million by June 30.
The Salvation Army’s most recent annual report noted its social services provided more than 1 million sessions of care to Australians in need, helped 46,000 people experiencing homelessness, provided financial counselling to more than 65,000 and offered care to 13,000 people who were coping with family violence.**
“The Salvos have been around for 140 years, through two World Wars, the Depression as well as natural disasters, including our most recent unprecedented bushfires across Australia, supporting the most vulnerable on the ground every step of the way,” says Mark Foyle the Salvos Public relations Secretary SA/NT
“COVID-19 has seen everyday Aussies face greater hardship than they have ever experienced before, impacting their physical, mental and financial health. We’re here to help – and we’re looking forward to the generous support of Australians through the Red Shield Appeal.
“We’re also hoping to see the continued generous support of the South Australian Government towards our life changing work and encourage it to dig even deeper this year in support of the Red Shield Appeal.”
For emergency assistance contact The Salvation Army State Office on (08) 8408 6900 for referral to your closest Salvos services – or visit salvationarmy.org.au/locations/south-australia