With almost 1 million Australians losing their jobs as a result of COVID-19*, now more than ever, people from all walks of life are turning to The Salvation Army for urgent help.
The Salvos have remained committed to delivering emergency help to those who need it most during the pandemic, despite the need for extensive changes to the way they operate.
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.
Sydney Streetlevel Mission in Surry Hills offers assistance to anyone in need, including those currently in crisis, providing emergency relief, free meals as well emotional and personal support at this trying time. The service has seen a 60% increase in demand for meals – but now, having switched to COVID safe practices offers this support by serving a free take-away lunch each day, rather than a sit-down meal.
“We’ve been providing about 80 takeaway lunches every day. It’s a great opportunity for us to still connect with our most vulnerable community members and see how they’re going, both mentally and physically,” says Mitchell Evans, Mission Leader, Sydney Streetlevel Mission.
“We encourage them to seek help from medical professionals if needed. Due to a developed trust we hold in the community, we are in a position where we can also have a respectful conversation about their personal hygiene and encourage them to wash their hands and shower to help stop the spread of the virus. We can also point them in the right direction of other services that may be able to assist them.
“We’re also regularly ringing community members to check in on them. Many have no family and are extremely isolated, it is important for us to be making contact during these difficult times. We encourage anyone in need to contact The Salvos Assessment Line,” he says.
In Liverpool, local Salvos are currently serving 250 meals each week, up by 130. Emergency relief is also up by 60%, to 240 people a week.
The Salvos in Sydney’s North Shore have been able to give out 450 boxes of fruit and vegetables and loaves of bread to people experiencing hardship – with a further 160 boxes being delivered to the elderly, people with disabilities and the unemployed.
Local Salvos have also been assisting vulnerable shoppers during the dedicated shopping hours at local supermarkets and handing out water to people in queues at Centrelink.
At The Salvos Inner City Men’s Homelessness Service, clients are being provided with support and case management to help get them back on their feet, despite social distancing challenges.
“We’ve seen more referrals from hospitals and correction facilities from people who need urgent help. Due to social distancing requirements, we’ve had to move more than half of our residents off-site to one-bedroom apartments, which has been a positive experience for these men,” says Kristie Clifton, Centre Manger, Salvos Inner City Men’s Homelessness Service.
“We have had to adapt our programs in the face of COVID-19, including sending meals to the men’s rooms, rather than them eating in a communal space and changing activities such as our group art program, by now going door to door to provide art supplies to the men to work on their projects on their own,” she says.
With NSW Treasury forecasting that the number of unemployed people in NSW will more than double by the end of this year to between 7 and 10 per cent (the highest for 28 years) – The Salvation Army is bracing itself for ongoing increases in the number of people seeking help with financial problems, homelessness and domestic violence.
“The Salvos are anticipating an avalanche of need in the months to come, as the Government’s JobKeeper and additional funds under JobSeeker conclude,” says Mitchell Evans
“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,” he 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 Mitchell Evans.
“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 New South Wales Government towards our life changing work and encourage it to dig even deeper this year in support of the Red Shield Appeal.”