20 May 2022

Dig deep to help Vinnies work its wonders for our homeless this winter

| Evelyn Karatzas
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A mother and daughter greet two St Vinnies volunteers at their front door.

St Vinnies is committed to supporting Canberra’s most vulnerable this winter. Photo: St Vincent de Paul Society.

Too many individuals and families in our community are left out in the cold, often through no fault of their own.

This year’s Vinnies Winter Appeal aims to raise $300,000 to help the homeless survive the colder months.

St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn president John Feint said Vinnies provided support in various ways, including financial assistance, guidance, and caseworkers to offer personalised service to help find pathways.

“Our dedicated team of volunteers and members are here to help with respect and compassion for those who come to us every day. But we need the communities’ help in providing funds to enable us to do this, especially this year,” Mr Feint said.

“[Winter] isn’t as easy for a lot of people in our community.

“Many families often worry about deciding when to turn the heater on as utility bills go up. Some families have to make that tough decision – ‘do I get the groceries or do I turn the heater on?’.”

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Mr Feint said the winter appeal funds raised would go towards providing basic living costs and necessities.

“We provide clothing, warm blankets, coats, basic food and support for utility bills … I’m not saying we pay everybody’s bills all the time, but we try to help wherever we can,” he said.

“We also have our two night patrol vans operating in the Canberra region which go out every night of the year, except for Christmas, and provide tea, coffee, sandwiches and most importantly someone to talk to.”

A child sleeps beside her mother in the back seat of a car.Domestic violence is the lead cause of homelessness across the Canberra region for women and children. Photo: St Vincent de Paul Society.

About 2500 staff, volunteers and members currently support and work in the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn region where calls for help have significantly increased this year.

These calls show domestic violence as the lead cause of homelessness for women and children in the region.

“So much of what we do is influenced by key social issues such as domestic violence and the safety of families,” Mr Feint said.

“Domestic violence is just so prevalent, which is why we’ve focused on it this year along with homelessness and advocating for people to help them with their basic needs.”

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He said donations would go directly to those in need.

“Getting support for our mission and values helps us continue providing services to the communities and working with them.

“We tailor our systems to each person and have developed relationships with them. We don’t just come in, give them some help and say thank you. We work with people until they are in a better place.

“I’m really proud to be involved with this society and our work.”

The 2021 Vinnies Winter Appeal raised $473,775 to support the region’s most vulnerable.

To donate to the 2022 Vinnies Winter Appeal or find out more, visit Vinnies.org.au.

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