Today, 10 May, Lutheran Care launches its 2023 Winter Appeal.
As we move into Winter, plummeting temperatures are compounding the struggles households are already experiencing as they continue to grapple with the increased cost of living.
The steadily increasing numbers of men, women and children from all walks of life knocking on Lutheran Care’s doors tell the very concerning story of the state of emergency happening in local neighbourhoods right now. And it’s only getting worse.
Many clients Lutheran Care supports already cannot afford their utility bills, let alone the extra costs to heat a home. Sadly, even the basic human right of somewhere safe to live is out of reach for many in our community.
For our Winter Appeal this year, we’re sharing personal insights from a family we are currently supporting: Carol* and her grandson Oscar*. They have been struggling with the costs of food, rent, and bills, and sought assistance from Lutheran Care’s Emergency Relief and Financial Counselling teams.
Carol’s grandson recently moved in with her following the death of his mother and it has been an emotionally and financially challenging time since.
While they feel fortunate to have a rental to live in, there are problems with the unit, however Carol is too nervous to complain due to the fear of being evicted.
Carol said she would do anything for her grandson, but didn’t know how she would manage the responsibility of caring for him, given she receives a small pension and has little superannuation.
“Money just doesn’t seem to go as far anymore,” Carol said.
“When my husband was alive, we ate meat most nights. Nowadays, it’s only once or twice a week. Even mince is expensive. Otherwise, we eat soups and casseroles. I buy frozen vegetables as fresh ones are too dear. I don’t need much to eat. I prefer to let my grandson eat.”
Carol can also no longer afford to turn the heater on and will try to keep warm with blankets during the cold months ahead. She received the blankets from Lutheran Care, after one of her friends who volunteers with the organisation told her they could help her.
“Lutheran Care gave us food, blankets and a $50 voucher for the op shop,” Carol said.
“I was able to get my grandson some school clothes and some football boots. I am so grateful – there was no other way I would be able to afford them.”
To read Carol and Oscar’s story in full, please visit: lutherancare.org.au/winter-appeal/
Lutheran Care is urging supporters to give what they can this Winter, so the organisation can help families like Carol’s to weather the storm and enjoy a brighter future on the other side.
As well as the clients Lutheran Care supports, many of its supporters and regular donors are also feeling the financial strain, which is impacting the number and value of donations received. We are trying to do more with less. As a charity, we are also very concerned that our government and philanthropic funding is not stretching as far; the supermarket vouchers we give out to Emergency Relief clients do not cover a weekly shop for someone in need as they once did. More clients are seeking out our op shop vouchers and at values 60 per cent higher than the previous year, so households can quarantine other funds for food and bills.
Hence, the 50+ year old SA-born and bred charity has a huge sense of urgency this Winter, as the continuation and quality of services offered to an increasing number of people hinges on the Winter Appeal.
To find out more about the 2023 Winter Appeal, click here.
*Please note, names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.
Fuelled by the current cost of living and housing crises, the demand for Emergency Relief (groceries, bedding, vouchers and referrals to ongoing supports) has soared by 260 per cent in just two years. In the 2021-2022 financial year, we supported 1648 clients with 2755 ER appointments. A total of 35 of these ER clients accessed the service five or more times in just one year. The number of ER clients experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity sits at 32 per cent.
The number of clients needing ER support is projected to be even higher this financial year with a growing number of people not having enough money to cover their basic needs. Most days, ER appointments are at capacity and our team are forced to turn people away with an emergency overnight bag of groceries, and an invitation to seek an appointment early the following day.
The surge in clients seeking other Lutheran Care supports such as Financial and Personal Counselling also reflects the growing stress households are experiencing. Clients were supported with 1108 counselling and case management sessions in 2021-2022, an increase of nearly 34 per cent on the previous year. A total of 402 new clients accessed Lutheran Care’s Financial Counselling services in 2021-2022.
Almost 34 per cent of Lutheran Care’s Emergency Relief clients are facing homelessness or housing insecurity. A total of 85 per cent of people presenting for homelessness services right now are ‘first time’ clients – and many of these are dual income households, showing the changing face of those impacted by this growing problem.
A significant cohort of people facing homelessness and hardship are older women who are single or widowed and who do not have savings or superannuation to fall back on. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2021 Census, the number of people experiencing homelessness since the previous Census in 2016 has increased by 6,067, with females accounting for 81.7% of this increase. Overall, the number of Australian women experiencing homelessness has risen by more than 10 per cent since 2016. In 2021 19,378 people aged 55 years and over were experiencing homelessness, representing one in seven (15.8%) people experiencing homelessness at the time of the Census. The other most vulnerable cohort in our communities, children, are also being affected, and the traumatic repercussions of experiencing homelessness and poverty can be lifelong. Of the 122,494 Australians experiencing homelessness on Census night, 17,646 (14.4%) were aged under 12 years.