New figures point to sharp rise in poverty
New figures released by The Exodus Foundation show a startling increase in the number of Sydney-siders struggling under financial pressure. The Foundation, which is Sydney’s largest front line provider of free meals and services to the poor, has recorded increases in demand across a broad spectrum of socio-economic groups.
In the three months from September to November The Exodus Foundation recorded a 24% rise in the number of people seeking urgent financial assistance. This included assistance with electricity bills, rent, food and even medical services. Many of these people were families, sometimes with one breadwinner.
“Even on one income they struggle to make ends meet,” said the Rev. Bill Crews, CEO of The Exodus Foundation. “If they are on welfare it’s even tougher for them. We are then left to bridge the gap between inadequate welfare payments and a family’s next meal.”
Each day the kitchen in The Foundation’s famous Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurant prepares 1,000 meals for the poor. Analysis from the past three months has revealed a 10% rise in the number of people under the age of 30 who regularly receive free meals in the Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurant.
The Exodus Foundation has also recorded a sharp rise in the number of people seeking free meals from its city food van. Over the past three months there has been a 21% increase in demand. “These new people aren’t just rough sleepers, increasingly they’re people who can’t afford to eat after they’ve paid their rent in boarding houses,” said Mr Crews. Each night over 200 free meals are distributed from The Foundation’s food van.
“Because The Exodus Foundation is at the front line of delivering services to the needy we are like the canary in the coal mine – we sense the financial burden of the poor before many others,” said Mr Crews. “But ironically, as the economy tightens, forcing more people to turn to us, we struggle to meet their need as our donations shrink.”
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