THE downturn of the mining industry and high WA unemployment rate have caused a significant increase in northern suburbs residents seeking assistance this Christmas, according to The Salvation Army staff.
Merriwa corps officer Nikki Novell said the branch had a 30 per cent rise in applications for its Christmas appeal this year, with staff busily creating 100 food hampers, up from 60 last year.
They have had to turn down requests for help but any items remaining on December 22 will be given to more families.
“We don’t want to do it, if someone needs to apply we want to want to be able to help them,” she said.
“We’re seeing more people who normally cope ok who have recently lost jobs.”
The organisation is aiming to get as many donations as possible by December 19 but will accept non-perishable items until Christmas.
“I’m still concerned about how much we have, I want to have more so on the 22nd we can help others,” she said.
Heathridge officer Natalie Norman said her branch had experienced a similar increase, with applications for assistance up nearly 25 per cent overall and filling their quota for 100 hampers by mid-November.
She said they had to reduce the amount provided to each family though community donations had been “very generous”, and believed the mining downturn had a flow on effect.
“We have lots of people who just can’t get jobs,” she said.
People can drop off contributions to staff before December 23 or donate toys to the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal before Christmas Day.
“We’re all part of one community and you never know when you’re going to find yourself in that situation,” she said.
Major Novell encouraged donations of speciality goods including Christmas pudding, mince pies, chocolate and lollies.
“Help them make it special,” she said.
“We’ve had so many people come in and say it feels so good to give (and) to help others.”
The Salvation Army has branches at 26 Jenolan Way, Merriwa and 36 Christmas Avenue, Heathridge.