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The power of a helping hand

Food in your stomach, a roof over your head, a doctor when you are sick – these are things everyone deserves.

Abdi supports people seeking safety in Australia who are struggling to survive. Photo: Australian Red Cross/ Michael Chong

Red Cross emergency relief teams help men, women and children who are seeking safety in Australia access the basics to survive. Many have fled war, violence or persecution and are trying to make a life in a new country with little money and none of the social support available to others.

Our teams help people who have exhausted all options and have nowhere else to turn. We provide emergency cash grants, help with crisis accommodation, food and transport vouchers, access to healthcare and support to find a job.

When you give food to a person who hasn’t eaten for a couple of days … or someone who has children and doesn’t have enough to feed them … that’s making a lot of difference to those people.

Abdi, one of our emergency relief team leaders

Across the country 10 Red Cross emergency relief teams provide assistance that can mean the difference between a family having food on the table, and going hungry; between having a safe place to sleep and being homeless.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the people our teams help extremely hard and as businesses closed and communities locked down, many lost whatever casual employment they had. “Most of them were doing casual jobs, so they were the first to be impacted,” Abdi says.

“Within the first two weeks, we got, just in Western Australia … close to around 200 clients [extra] seeking support around their rent, food, transport, their health needs.”

Photo: Australian Red Cross/Michael Chong

Although federal and state governments have provided very welcome financial support, the needs we are seeing still outstrip the available resources. “What we’re trying to do is, with the limited resources we have, distribute it to the people who are in financial hardship and most vulnerable.

“We try and provide more support to people who have additional vulnerabilities, like significant health [concerns], domestic violence, and children, or someone who doesn’t have work rights.”

For people with the greatest needs we provide casework support and link them with communities to assist them as they build a new life. “We try and connect them to communities … with their church or their mosque or their temple, or wherever we think that person could get support.

We have women’s morning tea. So, every Tuesday, women from different backgrounds come together and they share their stories, their food, their culture.

Abdi

Our teams help ensure people’s immediate safety and survival but it is their personal strength and resilience that will see them through the other side as they build a new life.

Abdi knows that there are likely difficult economic times ahead and the number of people needing urgent assistance will only increase in the immediate months to come. Thanks to our supporters we will continue to be there for those who need us most.

“That donation from the public is very important to us and to the people we are passing it on to,” he says. “It saves lives, you’re preventing a lot of things happening to that person … It’s a lot of help, a lot of help.”

Because food, shelter, safety and belonging are precious things we all deserve.

Find out how you can help support people seeking safety in Australia