A little can go a long way with Emergency Relief support

Financial hardship has been one of the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has presented. We have been spending more time at home abiding by the restrictions, increasing our utility bills, employment may have been lost or working hours reduced, and for many households this has added extra financial pressure on day-to-day living expenses. However, it is important to know that there are support services available to assist people throughout these challenging times, one of which being Emergency Relief.

Emergency Relief provides financial or material aid to assist people experiencing financial hardship. The service offers support to purchase necessities such as food and fuel, and to assist people who may be struggling to pay bills.

Emergency Relief worker Tanya, has seen the demand for the service increase.

“Since the COVID-19 lockdown commenced, there has been a significant increase in the amount of people accessing Emergency Relief, all with different needs and circumstances, many however, have been new referrals and people who have not necessarily needed to access this kind of support before.”

Understanding the financial uncertainty and stress that individuals, families and couples are going through, a confidential and non-judgmental service is the key priority for Emergency Relief engagement.

“It is important that we take that extra time at the beginning of an appointment to understand more about the person and make them feel comfortable as they are experiencing really challenging times.”

“For some, it takes only one missed pay before they experience financial stress, or as soon as there is an unexpected expense such as car repairs, which can really affect someone’s budget and they then find themselves unable to purchase necessities such as food.”

“The benefit of Emergency Relief is it can take some of the financial pressure off, such as providing a food voucher for that week, which is then one less expense someone has to worry about, and that can make all the difference” said Tanya.

Emergency Relief is provided from Centacare’s Ballarat and Warrnambool office bases. While both locations have experienced food and fuel vouchers as the key requests for assistance, Emergency Relief Worker Maria, explains that the flexibility available in the support to adapt to the differing needs of each client is so important.

“Every client has a different story and need. One area where people have needed extra assistance is during homeschooling. Homeschooling has created extra costs that parents wouldn’t normally endure such as increased internet, to keep children connected with their schooling, running the heating more often and even extra food for the children throughout the day. All of these costs add up.”

“We have been able to assist people with their internet costs for homeschooling, fuel for travelling to distant medical treatment, car registration, family law appointments, rates and utilities. Emergency Relief has been able to assist people in a range of circumstances” said Maria.

The Emergency Relief support has been invaluable during this unprecedented time, in some cases, the support has guided people on a journey to recovery and for others the assistance has taken the pressure off one expense and allowed the remaining to go towards another.

“We are often providing a Band-Aid measure, but if that can assist someone get from plan A to plan B by easing some of the financial pressure or providing information about other support services, it makes it all the worthwhile” said Maria.

If you think Emergency Relief could help you, a member of your family or someone that you know please call 1300 303 988 in Ballarat, or (03) 5559 3000 in Warrnambool to book a telephone appointment.