THE St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria, Vinnies Victoria, has launched its Christmas Appeal, supporting the families that will be left struggling this Christmas as the state continues its economic recovery from the pandemic.

Vinnies Western Central Council president Arthur Donovan said there would a greater amount of people who go without at Christmas this year, making the Vinnies Christmas Appeal more important than ever before.

He said the cost of living was a major contributing factor for families struggling to make ends meet, and it was even more evident over the past two years during the pandemic.

People who had employment affected by the pandemic were no longer receiving government support, further adding to financial stress.

“Our need for the community will be greater this year… interest rates and rent prices are going up which then increases the demand on us,” Mr Donovan said.

“Christmas is a time of joy but it turns into a time of desire [when you can’t provide for your family] especially when children are involved.”

Over the past two years, local Vinnies volunteer groups have provided almost $290,000 worth of assistance to people needing support through food vouchers and hampers, utility bills, fuel, education costs and whitegoods in the areas of Kilmore, Seymour and Epping.

Vinnies Victoria chief executive Sue Cattermole said thousands of people would struggle to feel positive about the future unless they receive support from the organisation.

“I wish I could say it’s going to be a hopeful Christmas for everyone this year, after the ending of the lockdowns,” she said.

“But the reality is it won’t, and the need is significant because vulnerable households now have additional pressures this Christmas due to the impact of the lockdowns.”

As latest Australia Bureau of Statistics unemployment figures hit 5.2 per cent, Vinnies expects that calls for assistance will begin to rise again.

At its last count, one in eight Australians and one in six children are living in poverty according to the 2020 Poverty in Australia Overview, with those numbers only reflecting pre-pandemic.

“Scores of families and individuals are coming to us every day in urgent need of help,” Ms Cattermole said.

“Many could never have imagined the pressures they’re facing, and they’re worried they won’t be able to feed their families, let alone keep a roof over their heads. These are desperate and painful times for many

“The fact that this is happening just before Christmas, when demand for our services typically goes up anyway, means the ‘festive season’ will be stressful for many families.”

Mr Donovan said those people wishing to donate could do so by donating money to the Christmas Appeal on the Vinnies website, or donatin non-perishable goods that can be packed in food hampers.

People wishing to donate goods, or would like to volunteer with St Vincent De Paul Society in Kilmore can call 0428 546 328 or email kilmore.conf.pres@svdp-vic.org.au.

People can visit the Vinnies Christmas Appeal website or call 13 18 12 to donate to the appeal.

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