Samaritans receive much needed relief

HELP FOR HELPERS: Pat Conroy, left, with John Barham at the Toronto Samaritans shop on Monday. Picture: Jamieson Murphy
HELP FOR HELPERS: Pat Conroy, left, with John Barham at the Toronto Samaritans shop on Monday. Picture: Jamieson Murphy

THE Samaritans provided emergency relief to countless people in the April storms. Now the Samaritans have received some emergency relief themselves.

Calls for help during the storms saw many local charities stretched to the limit.

Labor Member for Charlton, Pat Conroy, said he was buoyed by the recent announcement from the Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, that one-off funding of $62,000 had been extended to local emergency relief providers.

The Samaritans is one of eight providers in the Hunter who will share in the funding.

"I lobbied the government to provide extra assistance to charities like the Samaritans who provide emergency relief services in our area, and I'm pleased the extra funding has come through," Mr Conroy said.

For a lot of people the storm was a catalyst for financial hardship, Mr Conroy said, and very few were covered by the Disaster Support Payment.

"People who, under ordinary circumstances manage to make ends meet, were caught out by the unexpected costs that came along with this event," he said.

"For some, it was losing all the food in their fridge and freezer during the power outage. For others it was the cost of fuel to run the generator for a few days. Even the simple fact that children couldn't attend school for days or weeks added to some family budgets."

John Barham from Toronto Samaritans said during the storm and its aftermath, the organisation was twice as busy as usual.

"[At Toronto Samaritans] we spent $7000 on top of our normal expenditure, and $6000 of that was food vouchers," Mr Barham said.

Mr Conroy encouraged locals to dig deep for the Samaritans' winter appeal.

Food, blankets and warm clothes are needed.

Mr Barham said some people had trouble clothing their children in warm clothes, and when the budget is tight it's hard to replace clothing kids grow out of.

"The winter appeal is vital to us to get enough money to keep us ticking over," he said.

■ For more information about how to donate to the Samaritans' winter appeal call Toronto Samaritans on 4959 7857.

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