Dealing with the pandemic has brought a new demographic to the tables across all of our HopeStreet locations as everyday Australians experience financial distress and food insecurity as a result of the current economic climate.

With more impending Government cuts to individual support on the way, our teams are expecting it to get a lot busier.

“A lot of the new faces are just every-day people doing it tough, trying to stretch their dollar a little bit further,” said Dianne, Manager at BaptistCare HopeStreet Port Kembla, who offer breakfast and lunch, as well as greater support services. 

Despite being restricted to just two people per table, Dianne says HopeStreet is busier than ever. “Normally if we have 80 people it’s a really busy day. Last week we hit 80 twice and another day in the high 70s. It’s now our norm.”

“It’s a big increase, and a big demand – on our chef and on our volunteers. Our volunteers are vital. COVID has meant a lot of extra work, it’s cleaning, it’s monitoring. Our volunteers make that happen, and ensure we continue to focus on connecting.”

It’s not just our teams who are concerned about the forecasted increase of people experiencing financial and food distress in our communities. Research by the Australian National University shows an extra 330,000 Australians will be put below the poverty line when the federal government reduces the coronavirus supplement after Christmas.^

According to The Guardian, modelling shows the $100 reduction to the fortnightly supplement from 1 January would see the number of people in Australia living in poverty increase to 3.82 million.

For single mum Erin*, beyond a hearty meal HopeStreet is the difference between living in pain and being able to manage it. Our Port Kembla team was able to help her access her prescriptions. “I was having a lot of trouble, I ran out of money for my medication. It was very scary. They gave me pharmacy vouchers to get the scripts. I’m so grateful for that community and support,” said Erin.

Dianne said the team is very much governed by the crisis that comes through the door. “We are also very reliant on the community as to what we are given, is what we give away.”

“It goes beyond food. It’s the kindness for people needing the basic necessities. It’s the ‘Hi, how are you? Are you doing okay? Can I help you with anything or do you need extra assistance?’” said Dianne.

As the demand increases, so must the support for what we do. Thanks to people like you, at HopeStreet Port Kembla:

  • 36,825 meals were served
  • 5,376 food hampers were distributed
  • 2,380 emergency relief items gifted – that’s toiletry packs, clothing, linen, phone cards, quit smoking aids, petrol vouchers, pharmacy vouchers for scripts

… over the past 22 months.

Can you help us provide connection and food for people in our communities who are experiencing financial and food distress this Christmas? Please donate today.

^https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/18/covid-welfare-cut-will-cast-330000-more-australians-into-poverty-researcher-says
*Names have been changed. Images are for illustration purposes.