2016 Annual Report - Page 7

Emergency Relief Program CSF’s Emergency Relief (ER) program is the last safety net for people experiencing financial hardship in Frankston. The 5374 instances of Emergency Relief (ER) distributed by our skilled volunteers was an increase of 373 from the previous reporting period. A further 1248 instances of perishable foods were recorded in the last 4 months of the financial year (March – June 2016). Expanded data-collecting for perishable foods was necessary due to the success of CSF’s expanding distribution of fresh and frozen meals. A very generous grant of $12,822 from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund and a $1,000 donation from the Langwarrin Community Centre paved the way for our kitchen upgrade. The upgrade included the purchasing of commercial fridges, freezer and other items that has seen CSF more than triple its supply of in-kind food donations. The grant expenditure has resulted in a return of investment of more than $90,000 in donated food that has gone a long way to making up for the $89,819 decrease in ER funding for Frankston’s most financially-vulnerable people. Our volunteers responded to 11,174 enquiries from the public, which included 7,137 individual contacts, with our interviewers completing 5,551 face-to-face assessments. We acknowledge the commitment of CSF trainers Annette Newton and Stewart Harkness who work to ensure that all CSF interviewers receive nationally accredited training in assessing and supporting clients with increasingly complex needs. CSF is also grateful to our reception and administration staff that do a tremendous job. CSF volunteers have sorted and distributed 8,459kg food from three of our biggest perishable food program supporters, SecondBite, Ozharvest and Fareshare, equating to more than 19,200 meals. CSF would like to pay special mention to the team at Avocare Community Connect who cook and supply up to 180 healthy take-away meals for CSF clients each week. We also acknowledge Operation Larder, whose support in assisting to keep our pantry stocked has been instrumental in keeping our grocery costs down and clients provided with the necessary food hamper staples. There simply are not enough words to thank the dozens of community partners that have assisted in growing our food program this year, not to mention all CSF’s volunteers who have embraced necessary service changes. Despite significant grant-funding reductions, CSF has made true on its assurances that we would still continue to assist substantially with client accommodation, housing and utility Community Support Frankston costs, with more than $50,000 in ER funding directed to those in severe financial crisis and with nowhere else to turn for help. As housing stress continues to worsen in Frankston, people on a Government-supported payment are often left with the decision of rent or food and are only one unexpected bill or crisis away from finding themselves homeless. CSF also directed more ER funding to assist people with optical, medical, pharmacy and dental problems than in the previous financial year. This correlates strongly with our volunteer issues-reporting that has seen a 15% increase in clients presenting with health issues (1857 compared with 1576 in 2014-15). Our Department of Social Services’ reporting also shows that 55% of clients coming to CSF are self-disclosing a mental health problem. A higher allocation of ER expenditure was also directed to childcare costs, household goods, car registrations and a new partnership with local laundromat (Bubbles on Beach) to help people without access to washing facilities to keep their clothes and bedding clean. There were 6,988 issues identified by volunteers in the 12 month period, which was an increase from our last reporting period. Major issue fields included health (1857), income (1311), accommodation (1250), legal (460), transport (308), support services (355), employment (285), communications (language/paperwork - 165) and education (101). Further analysis into minor category break down (compared to 2014-15) revealed that homelessness was the biggest issue recorded under accommodation, with a 30% increase. Under the employment category, loss of job almost doubled, with a 94% increase. Domestic violence increased by 24% and drug problems by 13%. In terms of material aid encounters by gender, CSF had an increase in men and women accessing our service, with a significant increase in men (31%). The age demographic of our clients is still dominated by 26-40 year-olds who make up just under half of all material aid encounters but we have had a higher percentage growth in our more-elderly clients, with a 37% increase in the 56–70 and a 35% increase in the 70+ age brackets respectively. Postcode representation had a slight increase in people presenting from Langwarrin. However, people indicating they had no fixed address were the most noticeable increase. Unfortunately, no amount of statistics will ever tell the full story of the real impact that our volunteers have in providing meaningful outcomes for the people we serve. | Annual Report 2016 7