By Barry Morris
THE St Vincent de Paul Society has seen a sharp spike in calls for assistance from the needy on the Mornington Peninsula in the past year, figures released by its Melbourne office reveal.
The Vinnies’ figures for the southern region showed it provided help and support to the value of $890,000.
In 2016-17, the number of food parcels handed out rose 11.3 per cent, the society was called on to provide help with housing for 12.9 per cent more people, the number of prescription medicines paid for rose 13.2 per cent and education costs shot up 27 per cent.
In three years, the SVDP had experienced a 43 per cent rise in the value of financial welfare support delivered, the office statement said.
In Mornington, members have made 790 home visits and provided assistance to the value of $107,000 this past financial year.
Conferences in Frankston, Mt Eliza, Dromana, Rosebud, Rye, Sorrento and Western Port are doing similar work.
Vinnies has launched its national annual winter appeal to help a never-ending stream of people in need.
“The peninsula is a beautiful part of the world in which to live, with its beaches, clean air and idyllic lifestyle,” Vinnies’ Mornington president Paul Girolami said.
“Unfortunately there are still people – families and individuals – who need help with housing, food, protection from violence and a host of other daily problems.
“That’s where we come in, along with other charities and help provided by the Mornington Community Information and Support Centre.”
Mr Girolami said in many ways the St Vincent de Paul Society hadn’t changed since it was founded in 1833 in Paris by 20-year-old student Frederic Ozanam.
Then, thousands were without work and homelessness, disease and hunger were rife.
Ozanam named the society after St Vincent de Paul, the patron saint of Christian charity
“In Mornington, with rising food costs, we provide food parcels and vouchers that enable people to shop for their own food,” Mr Girolami said.
“We also help people with their rent and provide furniture and clothing and help them to pay gas, water and electricity bills.
“Prescription medicines are a concern for a number of people and we help pay for scripts. We have also been called upon to help with schooling costs.”
Mr Girolami said home visits were an essential part of SVDP work.
Visits are made in response to calls from families and individuals to the Vinnies Call Centre in Mornington which handles all requests on the peninsula. The number is 5976 4974.