I want to share a few stories with you. Stories from people in our community, Stories of struggle, anxiety, helplessness and desperation. Stories of everyday people who find themselves in situations where they simply can’t cope. Victims of circumstances beyond their control. These are stories of people who have been recipients of support from the Melbourne Jewish Charity Fund. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Kellie is a single mother with 3 children, she escaped domestic violence from a Husband that assaulted her and her children. Her husband has breached a restraining order multiple times leaving Kellie and her children with severe anxiety and PTSD. There is also a legacy from her ex-Husbands financial abuse which debilitated her finances. Kellie reached out to MJCF not knowing how she was going to afford her rent or pay for the Psychology appointments both her and her children so desperately need. MJCF arranged to support Kellie with rental subsidy, medical bills and general living expenses as she navigated her new life.
Michael and Stacey have 3 young children with multiple behavioural and learning issues. 2 of their children have been accepted for NDIS funding however their 8-year-old daughter has not. She has been struggling to manage in school and finds it difficult to cope with issues at home. It was recommended that she see an Occupational Therapist weekly as she continues to face many ongoing challenges. Even with both parents working, they are struggling to afford the additional cost of the therapies required. It was hard for Michael and Stacey to make the decision to approach MJCF for assistance but with their savings dwindling due to the rising cost of living and the additional unforeseen expenses, they had no where else to turn.
Georgie was working 2 jobs to keep up with her rent and to afford her daughters psychology sessions. She had no savings but was just keeping her head above water. Unfortunately, she sustained an injury at work that meant she was unable to earn an income for 5 weeks. While she has put in a work cover claim, this takes a while to be approved. Georgie was now faced with no money to pay her rent or her living expenses while she was off work. Reluctantly, Georgie approached MJCF, her first time reaching out for charity. MJCF was able to take the financial burden off her so she could concentrate on her recovery.
Jane’s husband was diagnosed with a serious illness. Already unable to meet their monthly budget, the family’s difficulties were compounded when he was forced to give up work and was not eligible for income insurance. They made the difficult choice to reach out to MJCF for help. The assistance provided by MJCF allowed the family to concentrate on being a support for their very ill loved one. It allowed him to get the medical treatment he needed and not worry about the day-to-day financial pressures.
Loren recently lost her husband. They have two young children. She found herself unable to cope emotionally and financially. She works part time and could not work longer hours due to raising her children. She came to MJCF as finances became tight and she was unable to afford a new computer for her son or the cost of his therapy sessions. Loren tries to be as financially independent as she can but has recently struggled as her rent and grocery bills have increased significantly.
For families like these and many others, MJCF’s support enables them to cope with challenges that otherwise seem insurmountable. Unfortunately, the demand is growing but thankfully, MJCF is there to support the community in our greatest time of need.
These are just a few of the many stories of people who reach out for help every week.
We have a problem that we need to be talking about more. Our community is in crisis. Too many families are struggling to keep up with day-to-day expenses. This has been compounded by the increased cost of living.
Families in our community are struggling to keep a roof over their heads or purchase the food they need as rental prices soar and the cost of groceries continues to climb. We are also seeing an escalation in the mental health crisis as individuals and families go without the therapies they desperately need as patients cancel or postponing appointments because they can’t afford them.
The Melbourne Jewish Charity Fund (MJCF) has seen a 26% increase in demand for support for general living costs over the last 12 months. This is combined with a 23% increase in requests for support for medical expenses, including allied health appointments and dentistry costs. We have also seen requests for rental assistance increase by greater than 10%.
As a community we need to ask the question…Are we doing enough to support those living amongst us in their greatest time of need.
Yoni Paluch is CEO of the Melbourne Jewish Charity Fund.The Melbourne Jewish Charity Fund works directly with those in-need, providing immediate financial assistance to reduce homelessness, vulnerability and restore dignity into people’s lives.