Christmas charity to consider: Salvos' homeless assistance

All the clichés in the world can’t sum up the importance of a ‘home’ at Christmas.  

Those who have a nice, comfortable home, and loving family to share it with, might find it easy to underestimate what life would be like without one.  

Sure, we see beggars on city streets, some with their hands out for small change and others sleeping rough under railway bridges and in parks. Tough life for some ...  

But they’re not people we have to worry about, are they? Doesn’t someone else look after them?  

Luckily for ‘them’, that ‘someone’ is an ever-reliable presence in times of need: The Salvation Army.  

And yet, in these times of national prosperity, when most of us seem to have too much, The Salvos have released a first of its kind national snapshot of the homelessness services they provide and an insight into the people they assist on a daily basis.  

As the largest provider of homelessness services in Australia, the report reveals the Salvos helped 22,594 people in the six months to December 31 last year.  

This important report identifies that large numbers of the disadvantaged attribute their desperate homeless situations to family and domestic violence, a lack of affordable housing, and poverty. Fifty-three per cent of women, for example, accessed Salvation Army women’s homelessness services to escape family and domestic violence situations.  

“This report shows for the first time the extent of The Salvation Army’s work with homeless people across Australia. It emphasises our strong commitment to working with people with complex needs, often with no one else to turn to,” The Salvation Army’s Dr Bruce Redman said.  

“Our 155 homelessness services tell us that these clients struggle to find somewhere to live. The report confirms this, with 44% of people turning to the Salvos because of issues associated with housing affordability and housing crisis.  This is still a major national social problem that needs resolving.”  

Dr Redman said the Christmas period was the most difficult time of year for families and individuals in need.  

‘’We urge Australians to remember the women, men and children who will not share in the joy and hope of Christmas time, who don’t have family to turn to, and who don’t have a roof over their heads.  

‘’All of us can make a huge difference to those experiencing hardship by making a donation to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal this year.”  

In December, The Salvation Army assists three times more people than any other month. And over the Christmas period they will provide care on more than 300,000 occasions.  

On Christmas Day more than 8,000 people - who do not have somewhere to celebrate - will share in a Christmas meal at a Salvation Army centre.  

The Salvation Army Homelessness Report shows:

  • 155 Salvation Army homelessness services operate across Australia.

  • More than 310,000 accommodation days were provided between 1 July 2012 and 31 December 2012.

  • 53% of women accessing Salvation Army SHS women’s services identified domestic and family violence as their main presenting issue.

  • 44% of clients accessing Salvation Army SHS services identified housing affordability or housing crisis as their main presenting issue.

  • One in five clients accessing Salvation Army SHS services who provided information on their mental health have been diagnosed with a mental health issue.

  • One out of every eight clients who seeks homelessness services goes to a Salvation Army centre.

  • 17% of Salvation Army clients identified financial difficulty as their main problem.

  • 25% of clients accessing Salvation Army homelessness services have been homeless for more than six months.

  • Over 80% of Salvation Army SHS clients identified government support payments as their main source of income.

  People can make a difference to those experiencing hardship by making a donation to the Christmas Appeal online or by calling 13 SALVOS.    

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