Charities flooded with struggling Australians
Charities have been inundated with families and young people needing help to feed and support themselves plus take care of their mental health.
Australia's largest food-relief organisation Foodbank reported a demand for help had doubled since the COVID-19 crisis began. The Feed Appeal reported a 50-78 per cent increase in the need for food relief.
Infoxchange, a not-for-profit social enterprise supported by News Corp Australia, saw a surge in March and during Victoria's Stage 4 lockdown on its website Ask Izzy - that connects people with more than 370,000 support services including shelter, food, money help and health care.
"Searches in Ask Izzy's food category more than doubled in a single week in March at the beginning of the pandemic, and searches for Centrelink locations nearly quadrupled the following week," Infoxchange chief executive David Spriggs said.
"Food category searches in Melbourne increased by 42 per cent during Stage 4 lockdown and searches for money help increased by 25 per cent."
Its new campaign, Unexpected Turn, aims to reach millions of disadvantaged Australians who have unexpectedly found themselves struggling this year as a result of COVID-19.
"It's great to see this campaign raise awareness for people in need," News Corp community ambassador Penny Fowler said.
Musician and Unexpected Turn campaign spokesperson, Nellie Jackson, understands the importance of asking for help after she struggled with the mental health and financial impacts of having her band's gigs and new album suddenly cancelled.
"Music is such a personal thing that it's kind of a therapy for me and I've had to learn new ways to cope with the stress of life and my job," she said.
"I know for some people, accessing support is really overwhelming and really scary, but there's no reason why someone should be suffering alone when there is help out there.
"You just never know when you're going to need it and you never know what it might be."
Now working as a youth drug and alcohol counsellor, Nellie said Ask Izzy was a valuable tool for people in her position who didn't expect to be struggling this year and don't know how or where to turn for help.
"With Ask Izzy, you can just type in where you are and there you go, it's all at your fingertips," Nellie said. "Having that information is a powerful first step."
Mental health advocate and founder of The Wake Up Call, Paul Spinks, said now is the time to protect your mental health and get support as early as you can.
"We need to keep talking about the issues of mental health in our community," he said.
"Research tells us that 1 in 2 Australians will have a mental health issue in their lifetime pre-COVID, so with the pressures we are all facing today, looking after our mental health is more important than ever."
Originally published as Charities flooded with struggling Australians in wake of COVID-19