15 May 2024

Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal raises hope for new beginnings

| Jen White
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People sitting at tables listening to a speaker.

Members of the Illawarra business and community groups at the launch of The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal in Wollongong. Photo: The Salvation Army.

Sally* stood in front of a room full of Illawarra business and community members and delivered a simple but heart-rending message: “Without the Salvation Army, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t be alive.”

To escape the domestic violence which started on her honeymoon, Sally was forced to leave her home state, spend months apart from her young child while she received intense treatment for trauma and change her whole identity.

But at the launch of The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal in Wollongong last Friday (10 May), Sally told the gathering that her life today was due to the support and help she received through the Salvos’ Carinya Cottage.

Carinya Women and Children’s Services provides crisis and transitional housing and outreach support for women and children impacted by domestic violence and homelessness in the Illawarra.

“Creating a new beginning is expensive. You don’t just leave and escape, it costs a lot of money and a lot of resources,” she said.

“I can’t thank the Salvos and the Carinya staff enough for the dedication, love and support I’ve received and still receive. I’m so full of gratitude that I’m alive.

“Thank you so much to those who donate to the Salvos because I moved into a house and I’ve had the whole house furnished. I still can’t believe it every morning when I wake up … all the furniture that was donated, including brand new mattresses, couches, fridge, washing machines, kitchen utensils, saucepans – everything was there for me.”

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The Red Shield Appeal celebrates its 60th year in May, and the organisation says donations are needed now more than ever.

Across the country, the Salvos aim to raise $38 million through events and the annual door-knock on 25 and 26 May.

Major Robyn Black told Friday’s gathering that many Australians were facing unprecedented difficulty and financial strain, some for the first time in their lives.

“In our 60th year of the Red Shield appeal, we’re urging all Australians to join us and rally together to give a new beginning to those facing hardship,” she said.

“There are more than 3.3 million Australians living in poverty.

“Rental prices have reached a new record high, breaking through the median of $600 a week for the first time and nearly one in five people are unable to afford meals, basic necessities and medical bills.

“People are having to make choices about whether to put food on the table.

“Those in persistent poverty are three times more likely to experience mental health stress than those not experiencing poverty. And during times of crisis, it can feel like there’s no escape, that there’s no way out.

“When you’re giving your all to make ends meet and yet still struggling to provide food and shelter, finding a way forward can seem daunting.

“With persistent anxiety present in our communities around the cost of living, the Red Shield Appeal aims to highlight the challenges faced by ordinary Australians who hesitate to seek our assistance, usually because of fear and shame.

“There are also those who have enduring significant hardships and find it so difficult to provide for their families.

“We’ve been doing Red Shield Appeal for 60 years and for 60 years we’ve experienced the generosity and the kindness of people in our community, helping us to extend our resources and address the heightened community needs.

“We’re confident that once again, compassionate individuals like yourself will stand with us ready to support those who feel isolated in their struggles.”

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During the launch, long-time appeal organiser Bill Dowson was presented with the Eva Burrows Award. Eva, known as the people’s general, was the second Australian to be elected general of the Salvation Army and directed operations in about 90 countries.

The award honors individuals who make a genuine difference to the lives of Australians.

Bill has served with the Salvation Army for more than 30 years and it’s estimated that during his time as Residential Red Shield Appeal chairperson, he has helped to raise more than $3 million.

For more information about how to support the Red Shield Appeal, click here.

*Not her real name

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