Demand for help grows

By Sonia Isaacs

WHILE Christmas and the holiday season can be time of great joy, for some it can also be a tough time of increased stress, loneliness and hardship. With ever growing concerns around the rising costs of living, housing stress and ongoing tensions around Covid in the community, many of our local welfare providers and neighbourhood centres are acknowledging that this year financial pressures are becoming more prevalent, and they are assisting wherever they can to lighten to the load.

Charles Russell from the Glasshouse Country Welfare Network said he had noticed that many people were still cautious about venturing out following the third wave of COVID-19 which could be contributing to an ongoing sense of social isolation.

“Our network members have also seen an uptake in Emergency Relief requests over the last few months, and we are doing what we can to support our community through food and voucher donations for those in need,” said Mr Russell.

Ken Husband from Morris House said in the lead up to Christmas, the Landsborough Neighbourhood Centre had been putting together numerous Christmas packs and hampers for distribution. He said that local businesses and churches had been extremely generous, and centre volunteers were working hard to get as many hampers out to clients as possible before closing for the Christmas break.

Rick Paget from the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre said for some individuals and families the pressure was always there– it just varied over time. He said along with other challenges experienced by families and individuals, in recent years Covid had amplified tension within the community around health, connection and general uneasiness.

“This year financial pressures are becoming more prevalent. Increases in fuel, housing, grocery and general expenses chip away at already ‘skinny’ budgets,” explained Mr Paget.

Like most of our local volunteer run community and neighbourhood centres, Maleny Neighbourhood Centre will shut from December 21 until January 9, 2023, however it will be open on Christmas Day for a community breakfast and the free pantry stocked with non-perishable items and food will be available 24/7 throughout the centre closure period. Landsborough Free Pantry located at 21a Toorbul Street, Landsborough will also be open 24/7.

Geoffrey Norman, Statewide Manager (QLD) Lifeline Queensland acknowledged that the holiday season could be a stressful and overwhelming time of year for many reasons, as often everyday stress and other difficulties people face over the year were amplified throughout Christmas.

“For people that are already isolated and feeling lonely for example, the social pressures around Christmas can be extremely difficult, and the feelings of loneliness are heightened. Many households within our community are struggling right now, and issues that people are facing don’t disappear at Christmas,” said Mr Norman.

He said support was always available by contacting Lifeline on 13 11 14, and it was important for people to know that they are not alone at this time. Local churches including the Seventh Day Adventist Church at Landsborough and Glasshouse Country Uniting Church Beerwah will also be open during the holiday period for those requiring additional assistance.