When clients enter AV’s Emergency Relief centres, they come from many backgrounds. They may be coping with long-term homelessness or struggling to pay the bills while in between jobs. They may be there for financial support, a hot meal, or a friendly chat with someone who will listen, but they all share a common thread: they are going through a rough patch and need a helping hand.
Janine* was recently supported by AV’s Emergency Relief. She had been homeless for most of her life; living on the streets and in and out of boarding and rooming houses for many years. Describing homelessness, she said that “as a woman, it’s really scary.”
After some time living in an emergency accommodation facility, she was finally ready to move out and found a place she could afford. Her life had been very raw and tough at times, but she felt relieved and thankful to be at last moving into safer and more permanent accommodation. It felt to her as though ‘life was only just beginning.’ Determined and courageous to make her way forward, Janine used what remained of her last Newstart Allowance to pay for the relocation of her belongings. During the move, her fridge was damaged beyond repair; but without any spare money, she had no way to replace it. Unable to refrigerate food or cook at home, the situation left no option but to eat takeaway food.
With few family or friends, Janine felt isolated and unsure who to call on for help. She heard of financial support that might be on offer from Anglicare Victoria and made her way to one of our Western Emergency Relief centres.
It’s easy to oversimplify people as ‘rich’ and ‘poor’, but of the 774,000 Victorians who live in poverty (13.2 per cent), the majority of these own their homes, and a third of them have jobs. (VCOSS report**) Emergency Relief volunteers aim to meet people where they are; maintaining client dignity while acknowledging that we all need a bit of help sometimes.
Our volunteers were able to spend time with Janine, listen to her struggles and provide practical financial assistance. They were able to give her emergency food vouchers for the local supermarket, and a food parcel from the Pantry Program located on-site. Our emergency relief volunteers are trained and experienced in supporting people from all kinds of backgrounds: living with disabilities, chronic illness, domestic violence, mental health issues. They will encourage each person to share their story, enabling opportunities for further assistance or referrals to other Anglicare Victoria support services. Janine was referred to the ER Crisis Counsellor on-site to discuss eligibility for a No Interest Loan (NILS) to purchase a new fridge, couch and discuss other support services options that are available locally.
* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality