Cost-of-living crisis

It was a mother and daughter who turned up on the front doorstop of the Ipswich Salvation Army, that summed up the cost-of-living crisis for the Biermanns.

Rita and Ashley Biermann both belong to the Ipswich Corps of the Salvation Army, which recently held its annual Red Shield Appeal.

“She wasn’t escaping domestic violence; she had no home,” Rita said of their visitor, who turned up at 4.45pm on a Friday with just a handbag and her daughter in tow.

“She had couch surfed; she lost her housing and had couch surfed amongst her friends until her friends said ‘no more’,” Rita said.

Her late arrival meant their sole part-time case worker was unable to help until Monday, so Rita had to ring around their usual motel contacts trying to arrange emergency accommodation.

Rita said they put the woman up for three nights in accommodation, and gave her a gift card for groceries until Monday when their case worker was able to get her another five nights accommodation, and got her back onto Centrelink.

“These are everyday things that we are coming across,” she said.

“There’s the single working mum (35 hours a week) who was three weeks behind in her rent; a daughter sick with covid and herself a close contact so two weeks out of work – then her car had problems so that was another week out of work,” Rita said.

“On a limited income with the cost of living going up through the roof, she was just managing as it was but this has just put her in a total spin with no family, no anybody, so we were able to assist her again and give her a gift card.”

All this is being managed by them and a part-time case worker who divides his time between Ipswich and Inala along with two money care workers who help with financial advocacy.

“We would love to see more (case workers),” Rita said.

“Our long-term goal would be to have the capacity to take more staff on.”

She says the situation for many in need, is hampered by pride: “We hope that in time, people will come to know that nobody likes asking for help. That’s a really hard place to come to (but) we need one another in this life.”

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