The high cost of living, the impact of addiction, homelessness, and family crises continue to place unbelievable pressure on Australian families, often with tragic results.
But in people’s darkest moments, The Salvation Army is there to show love, care and practical support. In western Sydney that comes in the form of locally-based teams of Moneycare financial counsellors, Doorways case managers and youth services, Salvos Connect sites, and centres in Parramatta, Auburn, Blacktown and Penrith. The Salvos stand beside people to help them get back on their feet again.
Major Beth Twivey has been a Salvo all her life and an officer (an ordained minister) since she was 29. She oversees Sydney’s social services and says that one of the unique things about the Salvos is its ability to support people in many different ways.
“Some of the most marginalised suburbs of Australia are in western Sydney,” she says. “We’re working with more and more people experiencing financial crisis. When people are living below the poverty line, they don’t engage, they retreat. So there’s loneliness and isolation even in a crowd. The Salvation Army helps provide a place to belong, connection, friendship, sense of family. We all need that.”
For more than 50 years, donations given by generous Australians to The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal have helped it continue its vital work, such as providing addiction treatment services to over 14,000 people annually, 16,000 meals to the hungry every week, and financial assistance to over 43,000 families every year, across Australia.
“Someone might come to our Freedom Centre at Penrith for emergency food relief,” Major Twivey says, “and we can have a conversation and hear their story. This person might struggle with finance or budgets as well as needing food, and because we have several parts of The Salvation Army in that building, we can very quickly understand a person’s need and connect them to a service to support them.”
Supporting an individual transforms whole communities
Major Twivey’s stories paint a poignant picture of Australian life when things get rough. “I recently chatted with a beautiful family, who’d been torn apart by some awful things that could happen to any of us. Their little girl stood up and said, ‘Thank you for giving me my mum back.’ The power of that thank you from that little girl, imagining what her life had been like, and hearing her say that, that’s the sort of thing we want to be able to continue to do.”
So the Salvos would like to say thank you – thank you to the community of western Sydney for trusting The Salvation Army to use the funds raised wisely. The impact is immense, Major Twivey says. “When you’re giving money to support one individual it helps not just that one person, but their family, street, school, workplace and community. The money will be well administered and used effectively so that the community is transformed – all from helping that one person.”
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