For too many people food and groceries are an optional extra. As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, more and more people are skipping meals to pay their rent, power and other bills. Many are turning to local charities for food relief, for the first time in their lives, and local food banks are struggling to keep up with demand, often running out of basic staple items. That’s why we have just boosted funding to 10 food relief programs, distributing a total of $80,000 so that people in acute hardship can be supported. We are continuing this support and are calling on you, our network, to join us and give what you can, or share with your networks.
With support from our regular donors to the SmartMeals program, and corporate support we have just made seven grants to provide food relief to people experiencing acute disadvantage while supporting employment and training opportunities.
It’s been a special year for our annual DineSmart campaign which celebrated two decades of collaborative impact with the hospitality industry. Last month we held a 20th Anniversary Fundraising Dinner to recognise this incredible milestone and scale up the impact of the fundraising throughout DineSmart December. The event was a roaring success and has brought this year’s DineSmart tally to $176,723 in funds for employment, training and education programs for vulnerable people.
We know that young people are disproportionately impacted by the current housing crisis and face multiple barriers to securing any kind of accommodation. The result is rising youth homelessness. Currently there is no national strategy or adequate funding to address this situation for thousands of our young people. That’s why in April we raised funds to support three youth services in regional centres.
The immediate impact of this rental and cost-of-living crisis is that more people are experiencing homelessness and housing stress, seeking assistance from already stretched community services. Our community partners are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of renters who cannot access or afford housing in the open market, or have been evicted. People have little choice but to move into inadequate or unsafe marginal housing such as rooming houses, emergency motels and caravans. That’s why $80,000 worth of grants has been directed to helping people into affordable appropriate housing, or maintain a successful tenancy, and to reach, assist and care for people in poor housing situations.
The situation for thousands of people including low-income families, young people receiving Youth Allowance, people living below the poverty line on JobSeeker, and women and children fleeing domestic violence is desperate. The cost of living and rental crisis are placing people in financial stress, as they struggle to feed their families, keep a roof over their head, or access safe accommodation after losing their home. This winter, join us and our supporters in responding to the needs of our most vulnerable community members who are seeking a safe place to call home.
Last month the ABS released the 2021 Census data estimating homelessness in Australia. The national data gives a snapshot, a point-in-time picture, of those who are experiencing homelessness and living in marginal housing. It offers a helpful overview of who is experiencing homelessness and where they are staying – for example 56% are women and children and 2 in 5 people are in overcrowded dwellings. But in many ways, the Census only shows us the tip of the iceberg.
SleepSafe has grown into a national material aid program providing free, high-quality linen and towels to over 550 frontline homelessness services across Australia, distributing over 84,400 kits and counting! But behind these numbers, are teams of people working to support their local community in need, from the Sheridan store staff advocating and raising funds for SleepSafe, to the staff at community organisations handing over kits to vulnerable people they are supporting. Recently, several SleepSafe partners visited their local fundraising Sheridan store to share stories of impact and meet some of the faces behind the program.
Family violence, relationship breakdowns and the soaring cost of living are placing more young people at risk of homelessness, while our housing crisis makes it increasingly difficult for homeless youth to find a safe and secure home. At-risk and vulnerable youth are increasingly falling through the gaps and being turned away from support services. This April we are supporting Youth Homelessness Maters Day (YHMD) and raising funds to support youth facing homelessness into safe and stable housing, breaking the cycle of disadvantage.
In December, restaurants and diners alike rallied around DineSmart to support disadvantaged people into life-changing programs. We know that already disadvantaged groups, including at-risk youth, migrants and refugees, and older women have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID pandemic and continue to experience barriers to employment. To respond to the ongoing challenges our recent DineSmart campaign has raised funds to target support to smaller, local organisations that provide vital job training, readiness and pathways programs to vulnerable groups in our communities.