Charities in crisis

• Volutneers Frank Fierro and Giovanni Buccheri survey PortCare’s severely depleted emergency rations.

FREMANTLE charities are at crisis point, with PortCare echoing concerns from St Patrick’s Community Support Centre last week that it might not have enough food to get through winter.

Last Friday (May 5) St Pat’s posted a call-out for donations as they had run out of dried and nonperishable food for the first time in 50 years.

The social media post resulted in an influx of support, however St Pat’s CEO Micheal Piu said they were still struggling to keep up with demand for assistance, while PortCare head Charlie Ricciardo revealed his organisation’s cupboard was also perilously close to bare. 

“I’ve never had it this tight before; it’s very tight, ” Mr Ricciardo said.

PortCare has been operating for 23 years, but there’s been unprecedented numbers of people seeking assistance in the first half of 2023.

“We are now serving based on what we receive or is available week-to-week and are now dependent upon what we can get,” Mr Ricciardo said.

“Our emergency relief has also been severely affected.”

Both Fremantle charities pointed to the rising cost of living and housing shortages as causing the leap in demand, and say they are in desperate need of donations.

“All of our communities, especially single parents and families with children seem to be the ones most affected with rising rents, electricity, gas, and grocery items,” Mr Ricciardo said.

St Pat’s CEO Michael Piu said the shortage wasn’t due to funding reductions, or a lack of generosity from people in the community given the response to last week’s call-out.

“We’re serving 1,000 more meals a month than we were this time last year and, if you compare the figures to pre-Covid levels, demand has jumped 250 per cent,” Mr Piu said.

“With a shortage of affordable, long-term homes for people to move into, we’re also having to provide intensive supports to people for longer, which is putting extra pressure on our staff and resources.”

St Pat’s has been encouraging people to donate to their Winter Appeal for necessities to help people doing it tough as the cold weather arrives.

PortCare has been seeking donations of perishable and non-perishable food, petrol vouchers and furniture from individuals and businesses as they head into winter.

Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzgerald said the council was “always open” to feedback on how to best serve vulnerable community members.

“We regularly meet with St Patrick’s Community Support Centre and hear lovely feedback about how grateful they are for the help they receive from the Fremantle community.

“We’ll continue to share the message for donations through our social media channels to encourage our community to help those experiencing hardship,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

To donate to St Pat’s Winter Appeal head to

To support PortCare, head to or if you’ve got goods they can be taken directly to their op shop at 372 South Street, O’Conor Mon – Fri 9.30am – 5pm or Sat 9.30am – 4.30pm.

Rotary’s also holding its annual Give a Can Give a Damn campaign to get donations of non-perishables for St Pat’s, have a look for their baskets.

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