Salvo’s bleak appeal

COCKBURN’S unemployment rate has edged over 6 per cent for the first time in more than a decade.

The tough times are putting more and more families into financial crisis, says the Red Cross, which was virtually begging for a plug for next weekend’s Red Shield Appeal.

“In short, there is a desperate need for funds for this year’s Red Shield Appeal,” said publicist Ross Woodward.

“On the front line it is very tough indeed and huge numbers of people in your area are having a big struggle.”

Sharon Bywaters has been based at Cockburn’s Salvos church for a few months and says its low socio-economic families that are feeling it the most.

• Salvation Army captain Sharon Bywaters. Photo by Steve Grant

The church’s services aren’t funded by the appeal itself, with its money going to community support programs, but it also relies on donations and the work of volunteers.

Capt Bywaters says they’re helping about 70 people a week, sometimes simply by having an understanding chat, or giving them some volunteer work around the centre to build up skills and self-esteem.

A welfare officer also helps them to navigate their way around the various welfare options available.

“A lot of people are closed off at first, they fund it difficult to get their stories across, it’s very emotional,” Capt Bywaters says of the people coming to the church.

She says the high cost of living, particularly soaring utility bills, is starting to bite, and mums are feeling it hardest.

She notes it’s particularly hard for them, as their hopes of getting their kids out of the poverty trap seem to fade with mounting bills.

The shield is being held on May 27 and 28 and the Salvos are still looking for tin-rattlers.

Capt Bywaters says her congregation will be hitting the Phoenix and Kardinya shopping centres, as well as the Supa IGA in HIlton and the ubiquitous Bunnings sausage sizzles. To volunteer as a collector or if you can’t wait to donate, call 13 72 58.

by STEVE GRANT

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