Salvation Army Major Peter Maynard is calling for donations and volunteers for this year’s Red Shield Appeal.
Salvation Army Major Peter Maynard is calling for donations and volunteers for this year’s Red Shield Appeal. Tanya Easterby

Salvation Army helps 300,000 during holiday period

AUSTRALIAN charities are facing a growing demand on their services as more families struggle to cope with the pressures of Christmas.

The Salvation Army expects to help more than 300,000 Australians during the holidays.

Recent surveys show 55% of disadvantaged people were unable to give presents to friends and family.

They are dealing with a steady increase in homelessness, with one-in-50 living rough or in severely overpopulated dwellings at the 2011 Census - up 8% since 2006.

Salvation Army Major Bruce Harmer said calls to the service's help line increased by 18% this year.

"What we know is that the Salvo Care Line gets more calls in the period during and after Christmas than at any other time of year," Major Harmer said.

"A lot of people feel the pain and pressure of loneliness, stress, financial difficulty, relationship breakdown or family conflict during this period than at any other time of the year.

"Sometimes it's the expectations on themselves, other family members and friends and the idea of having 'a perfect time' that can cause issues."

The St Vincent De Paul Society will also be busy and has called on the government to lift support to help agencies. This comes after studies found 80% of front-line agencies were unable to meet current levels of demand.

The Australia Institute of Health and Welfare earlier this month found 254,000 people had accessed specialist homelessness services in 2013-14 - an increase of 4% on the previous year.

- APN NEWSDESK

SALVATION ARMY SURVEY

The Salvation Army's 2014 Social Impact Survey covered 2485 disadvantaged Australians.

Of the respondents, 1236 had children.

55% said they did not have a lot of friends and 43% said they felt lonely

- 55% said they were not able to give presents to family or friends at least once a year

- 88% said they could not afford at least a week's holiday away from home each year

- 38% said they did not have regular social contact with other people

- 26% said they did not have a good meal at least once a day


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