As many members of the Limestone Coast community face increasing financial and housing challenges, The SE Voice has launched a campaign to help vulnerable residents to keep warm.
Faced with rising cost of living prices, coupled with a shrinking rental market and increasing interest rate rises, many locals are struggling financially to make ends meet, whether that be to access affordable housing, or to feed their families.
Staff at The SE Voice have decided to dip into their own pockets to purchase winter warmers and pantry staples to donate to local charity ac.care.
The SE Voice’s owner and editor Lechelle
Earl said she was saddened to learn that so many local families were struggling financially, especially in the midst of winter.
“Our editorial team has been investigating the rising cost of living in our region and looking into the implications that it has on our residents,” she said.
“It fast became evident there are a lot of people doing it really tough.
“Rather than just report on the matter, our kind-hearted and community-minded team decided to do something about it.”
The staff at The SE Voice rallied together and donated numerous items to ac.care, including blankets, sleeping bags, socks, gloves, clothing and a range of long-life food.
“One of the most humbling things to hear from the ac.care staff was how many people were asking for warm socks,” Ms Earl said.
“Socks are one of the items of clothing we take most for granted, it moved me to tears that people simply did not have them.
“So our team got together and donated every kind of item we could think of to help people keep warm this winter.”
ac.care welcomed the donation from The SE Voice staff and welcomed the call for greater community support.
“Sadly we are seeing more people than ever going cold and hungry in Mount Gambier as the cost of living soars and affordable housing dries up,” ac.care homelessness and community services senior manager Trish Spark said.
“As the region’s homelessness agency, we are doing everything we can to support vulnerable people, especially those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, but this is a community issue and we need the support of the broader community to have a greater impact and meet the growing level of need.”
Ms Spark said The SE Voice’s donation of blankets, clothing, socks, sleeping bags, towels, beanies, gloves and food would help keep people warm as staff would provide the items to people visiting the Mount Gambier Community Centre in need of support.
“These items will be appreciated by the recipients and will help keep people warm and dry during this very cold winter – giving someone a warm blanket, dry socks and other supplies can really make a difference,” she said.
Ms Spark said the shortage of affordable housing had become so dire tents were being handed out by the agency’s homelessness services every week as some people were left with no other options as emergency accommodation was full and waiting lists continued to grow.
“With the rising cost of living and shortage of housing, the number of people requiring help continues to grow and donations from businesses and the wider community are so important to ensure we can continue to provide the necessities to those in need.”
Ms Spark encouraged people to make one-off or ongoing financial donations at www.accare.org.au/donate or drop goods off to the Limestone Coast Homelessness Service during business hours at 22-24 Ferrers Street.
“We are always looking for items to assist people to set up homes when they are lucky enough to secure accommodation and also to furnish the units we use for emergency accommodation,” she said.
This includes kitchen and cleaning items, linen or other supplies to set up homes, along with blankets and other items to help people keep warm, especially if they did not currently have appropriate accommodation.
The SE Voice is calling on other local businesses to join together to donate to the charity.
“We are judged as a society by how we treat our most vulnerable,” Ms Earl said.
“I think the Limestone Coast is a wonderful place to live, and I know that we have some kind-hearted and generous local communities, so we are encouraging businesses to follow our lead and help to feed and clothe those doing it tough.”