St Vincent de Paul president Kevin Byrne says the pleas for assistance had now reached unprecedented levels.
St Vincent de Paul president Kevin Byrne says the pleas for assistance had now reached unprecedented levels.

Families need help in hard times

HER husband is self-employed in the building sector, business is good, but rising household costs mean money is tight.

“We haven't had takeaway for two years, the kids don't get tuckshop at school,” this Warwick mother-of-four explained.

“I've come to love shopping in second-hand stores.

“I don't know what I would do without them.”

The local woman belongs to an increasing number of Southern Downs families working hard to make ends meet.

In response organisations like St Vincent de Paul are reporting an unprecedented demand for financial help and support.

Kev Byrne is president of the society's Toowoomba diocese, which covers this region.

He said more and more families in Warwick and Stanthorpe were doing it tough.

“We are seeing more working families coming to us for help paying things like electricity costs or rent,” Mr Byrne said.

“They are a new demographic of people in need.

“This isn't a group we have had to worry about previously, but in the past 12 months they have started coming to us although they actually have jobs.”

He said the pleas for assistance had now reached unprecedented levels.

“I have been involved with the society for about 20 years and I have never known demand like this,” Mr Byrne said.

“I think it is reflective of the general economic situation, coupled with skyrocketing rents and rising electricity and food costs.”

He said St Vincent de Paul worked all year to help people with food hampers and financial and material assistance.

“But Christmas is definitely our busiest time of year,” Mr Byrne said.

“And there is undoubtedly extra pressure on families as they try to cope with the demands of the festive season.”

Yet there is an upside to having to be creative about making your money go around, according to one Warwick mum.

“Kids don't need expensive toys when you can give them something a lot more precious like your time,” she said.

“Get a football and kick it around together.

“And remember it is not just you doing it tough; a lot of local families are being forced to limit what they can spend.”

Hard days

  • St Vincent de Paul says demand for help has reached a 20-year high
  • More working families are asking for assistance


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