WITH COVID-19 wiping out jobs across Echuca-Moama, the unemployed and homeless are turning to the Salvation Army for urgent help.
And the organisation is bracing for a further influx once isolation measures are lifted.
Echuca-Moama Salvation Army Lieutenant Sonia Edwards said the demand for emergency relief had doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We expect this will escalate once the government assistance scales down,” she said.
The service which typically sees 30 people a week is now seeing about 60, many of whom have never asked for help before.
And although homelessness is increasing, the Salvation Army is unable to help people find local accommodation.
“We are helping them keep food on the table and assisting people to remain in their homes with financial support for their medical, utility, telephone and other large bills,” Lt Edwards said.
“There are people who are staying at motels who are paying large accommodation costs, leaving only a few dollars for food and others who have been living at caravan parks who are now living in their cars or on the street, because the parks have closed down.
“We’re also helping people who are not eligible for any government assistance such as loss of employment for people who haven't been working for the same employer over a year and those on temporary work visas.
“And we’re definitely bracing for an increase in number once the government JobKeeker and additional funds under JobSeeker closes.”
The call for help comes as The Salvos prepare for the annual Red Shield Appeal this weekend which supports personal hardship relief services in the twin towns.
“One of our main concerns is that due to the pandemic we have temporarily closed our thrift shop, which is usually our main source of income,” Lt Edwards said.
“The money raised from this appeal stays in the community and will be a very valuable asset to our welfare program.”
For the first time in its 55-year history, the traditional door-knock is running online at digitaldoorknock.salvationarmy.org.au/t/echuca-moama-salvos, due to coronavirus restrictions.
“Donations are coming in slow but steady and I thank those who have already donated and fundraised for us,” Lt Edwards said.
“We are seeking more people to start a fundraising page so we can spread the word further afield.
“We are also seeking businesses in Echuca-Moama to sponsor us and have their logo placed on our fundraising page.
“We live in an amazing generous community and we with your donations we can help those who are struggling.”
The service is also accepting cash donations if people can’t donate online.
● The hall at 50-52 Sturt St, Echuca, will be open on Friday to Sunday, May 22-24, from 2-4pm and Monday, May 25, from 10am-4pm to receive donations.
For information or join the team, contact Lt Edwards on 0427 666 155.
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