Vinnies predicts this Christmas will be tougher than ever for Queensland families

Vinnies predicts this Christmas will be tougher than ever for Queensland families

THE Vinnies Christmas Appeal has been one of the most important social programs run by the group since its inception.

This year, the group hopes to assist 1.3 million people, provide 365,164 beds, and donate 2 million hot meals.

But the group anticipates that this year's Christmas could be the toughest one to date for Queenslanders in need.

St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland State President John Forrest says the rising numbers of disadvantaged Queenslanders could mean more families will find the Christmas period tough.

"Sadly, 2018 looks no better, with increasing numbers of everyday Queenslanders marginalised by disadvantage," says Forrest.

"Our volunteers and staff are seeing people without accommodation consigned to living in cars before Christmas has even started."

"Some have left it too late to call us before becoming homeless and we're working hard right up to Christmas to get them back into emergency or affordable housing."

The biggest economic sting for many Queenslanders is end-of-year rent and power bills, which are expected to cause further problems for those who may be foreced to suffer through the heat with services cut off.

"They've got rent arrears, unpaid energy bills, no regular meals on the table, and it's just beyond their reach to get ahead," says Forrest.

"They're on the cusp of being evicted."

Liza Dykstra, co-ordinator at Vinnies Queensland's Inala Family Support Centre emphasises that the public may not be aware of the growing number of "the hidden poor".

"Unemployment benefits don't cover the cost of living," says Dykstra.

"We can help people budget but they're in the red every fortnight. Families we see are turning off the hot water systems, kids aren't getting a hot shower because their parents can't pay the gas or electricity bill."

During the Christmas Appeal, thousands of volunteers spend thousands of hours collecting material donations, financial donations and food, distributing them to families and individuals in need.

To show your support and make a donation visit www.vinnies.org.au or call 13 18 12.

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