St Pat’s feeling winter strain

Falling temperatures and wet weather can make winter almost unbearable for the thousands of homeless people in WA, but the St Patrick�s Community Support Centre is looking to extend a helping hand when it launches its winter appeal tomorrow.

�During winter, we see homeless women, children and men coming into St Pat�s to find a bed, a blanket or a warm meal,� chief executive Steve McDermott said.

�Winter is always our busiest season, not only for these reasons, but also because facilities such as our health clinic are busier because people become sicker.

�Our emergency relief team is also busier, providing grocery vouchers or a new pair of shoes for a needy client.�

In addition to providing shelter and food to the homeless, the centre also provides health care and social activities to help fend off feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Mr McDermott said services provided by organisations like St Pat�s were �vital� in winter, but financial constraints meant it was difficult to keep up with demand.

�Several of our services are at risk of folding because of government funding freezes or cuts, and this includes a very successful mental health housing program. Our emergency relief program is also under tremendous financial pressure, as is our specialist families-in-crisis program.

�Last year, St Pat�s had to turn away 50 per cent more clients than the year before, because the need is growing rapidly but our funding is not.�

People can donate to the winter appeal, hold their own fundraiser or donate items like blankets, towels, shoes, toiletries and tins of food.