St Patrick’s Community Support Centre (St Pat’s) in Fremantle is facing the prospect of heading into winter without many of the basic supplies they need to get through the cold months ahead.
The homelessness support service has experienced unprecedented demand for its services, particularly basics such as meals, food vouchers and hampers.
“Every year St Pat’s runs a winter appeal, to ensure we have enough food, warm clothing and other items which people who are sleeping rough, or in their cars, might need over the colder months,” St Pat’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Piu, said.
“But we’ve never faced a situation where we’re heading into winter not knowing if we’ll have enough food in the pantry to make it through.”
The shortage is not due to funding reductions, or a lack of generosity from people in the community, Mr Piu said.
“When we put out a call for help on social media we were flooded with calls and offers of assistance,” he said.
“We’re very fortunate to have strong support from both the general public but also other community services organisations, like Foodbank, and our fellow homelessness agency St Bart’s, as well as community groups such as Fremantle Rotary.”
Like many other community service agencies across Perth, St Pat’s is battling a perfect storm of mounting cost-of-living pressures and a lack of affordable housing.
“In real terms, 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%,” 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.”
To help St Pat’s support people doing it tough in our community this year, you can donate to their Winter Appeal to help them purchase basic items such as food, clothing and accommodation.
Meanwhile, Fremantle Rotary are running their annual Give a Damn, Give a Can campaign, where people can donate food items at collection points in local schools and supermarkets.