Demand for help growing, Border welfare agency says

St Vincent de Paul employee Peter Newlyn and volunteer Ben Tisdell work with Tony Close and volunteer Craig Evans to deliver furniture to another family in need. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

St Vincent de Paul employee Peter Newlyn and volunteer Ben Tisdell work with Tony Close and volunteer Craig Evans to deliver furniture to another family in need. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

DEMAND from people in need has jumped 20 per cent, prompting an urgent call for help with a welfare agency’s winter appeal.

St Vincent de Paul is desperately seeking donations of blankets and furniture.

But it is equally important the donations are of good quality.

Retail area manager for Albury-South West Alan Dickens said many of the people they helped were victims of domestic violence.

Up to 14 sets of furniture — this could comprise a bed, linen, a dining table and couch — are being supplied every week.

But Mr Dickens said St Vincent de Paul was being stretched to the limit and urgently needed more donations.

The organisation began its winter appeal two months ago and since then has received a steady stream of blankets.

Many are provided by regular commercial supporters such as South Pacific Laundry — which donates up to 60 blankets a month — and WAW credit union.

But the problem with many blankets is the quality.

“We’re still getting blankets that are not up to the standard that we hand out to people in need,” Mr Dickens said.

“Blankets that are ripped or badly stained can’t be used.”

Mr Dickens said a rule of thumb was that if a blanket was not good enough for you, it wasn’t good enough for something else.

The appeal though is not just about blankets — most people in need of blankets also need a mattress.

The centre is having to buy in between 15 to 20 mattresses every three weeks to meet demand.

“That’s above and beyond what we get donated to us,” Mr Dickens said.

Once again, the mattresses cannot have any stains — the Health Act prevents St Vincent de Paul receiving such donations.

“We can do up to 14 houses for people in need a week, but it takes a bit of a toll,” he said.

“We’ve probably got a 20 per cent greater need this year than we had last year,” Mr Dickens said.

“There’s a lot of emergency accommodation in Albury and Wodonga, but that’s just four walls — and that’s all people have got.”

Mr Dickens said that was because many of the displaced people they helped were victims of domestic violence.

“It’s up to society or other agencies to be able to try to fill (their accommodation with furniture) and give then a reasonable existence,” he said.

“Any good quality, secondhand furniture that you would want in your own house is the sort of thing we need.”

Anyone wishing to donate items, including clean, warm clothing is asked to phone (02) 6025 2239 or Mr Dickens on 0411 295 246.

A free pickup service is offered Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm.

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