Charities need help as weather, cost-of-living bites locals

Melissa Cook and Simone Reynolds from Barnardos. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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As we shiver through the coldest part of the year, local organisations are calling out for help in hopes that the community will give generously in support of those in need.

According to Centre Manager of Barnardos Penrith, Grace Hong, the cooler months cause demand to widen.

“During wintertime, we often have families coming in to request warmer clothes, such as jumpers, scarves and beanies. It’s also because a lot of those families don’t have access to money to get those warmer winter clothes,” she said.

“But also, because of the cost-of-living and the rise of grocery prices, there are always people coming in to request food and groceries as well.”

Barnardos Penrith, situated on Hosking Street in Cranebrook, is doing everything they can to provide for everyone who visits.

“In Penrith, the food pantry is run on a daily basis. We also open up a food pantry outside externally if we have any leftovers, so that the community can access it,” she said.

However, for those wanting to help, Hong said there are a few key things they’re always looking for.

“Shelf food always helps, because it is very hard to donate fresh vegetables and fruit, because those things don’t last. Warm clothes and also household items like blankets, doonas or pillows are also very helpful,” she said.

Hosking added that volunteers are also always needed, particularly to help out with the food pantry and their community garden.

Over at Mama Lana’s, volunteer Graeme Banks said that demand has changed recently, with people you’d never expect to need help now flowing in.

“What we have in place now is a demand from families who are facing the financial hardships through increased rates and rent and that sort of thing – some of them are just cutting out a meal a week at home and coming to us for a free meal,” he said.

“We even get people on their way home from work that have actually been working, earning money, but they still can’t afford to feed their family, and that’s a bit of a tragedy in itself.”

Primarily, the organisation needs help with their free meal service, held six nights per week.

“For our cooking process, we’re looking for pasta sauces, diced tomato, pasta – penne, number 18 is the one we usually use – olive oil, basmati rice, and mayonnaise,” he said.

Donations can be dropped off Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm, or during night service from 7pm to 8pm at The White House, 56 Woodriff St, Penrith.

Alternatively, they’re also on the lookout for monetary donations.

“Anyone who could help out with our electricity bill, that would be gratefully received. That’s our biggest one at the moment,” Banks said.

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Cassidy Pearce

Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.

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