Another busy year for the Rapid Response Circle

Looking back on the 2022-23 Financial Year, Rapid Response Circle (110) has had another busy year,  directly assisting 28 individuals and 16 families and triaging 18 enquiries for help.  Unaddressed trauma was evident in  many people we helped. Sadly we have noticed an increase in referrals of women, often with children, escaping violent situations., with refugees from Syria we noted severe trauma manifested in health and behavioural issues.  Visa situations for many remained very complex and single men with no visa or income continued to appear.  Calls for help with utility costs increased and  it became significantly harder for those relying on $20 per day plus shopping cards to manage.  There are certainly no luxuries there with one smoker resorting to butts out of the bin.

The help we provide has included both direct financial assistance  and provision of household goods and the general support needed when settling into a new country. We have contributed towards living expenses for 27 individuals and 15 families. Of these, nine individuals and four families have needed ongoing support and five men occasional assistance to cover rent.  Thankfully most of the people we assist are also helped by other Circles with rent, bills, car, and phone expenses and four individuals have access to Foodbank.

On the practical side we assisted two women (one with only a sofa and  quilt), and one family, to set their homes up from scratch and a further three individuals needed significant financial and practical help over a short period.   Again we were thankful for the support provided in this by  other Circles and Adelaide Refugee Support volunteers.

We believe that the Government Settlement packages that are supposed to equip recipients with the basics needed for a household to function smoothly need review. To fill in the gaps from these settlement packages we provided warm bedding and clothes to a newly arrived Syrian family of nine.  They also needed large cooking pots and utensils and a second mobile phone so older children out learning English could communicate with a parent.  A second Syrian family of seven, here about 15 months, were in a similar position, but compounded by health problems  which necessitated the  father taking on the role of carer.  In  each instance new and  donated items and shopping cards to buy additional clothing were combined.

In the provision of household items we try where possible to source second hand items and this year these  included  a near new fridge, microwave, electric bed and bedding and walking frame.  While around 90 blankets and warm quilts, all with new or clean, donated covers, were delivered to help people stay warm over winter. Similarly, packages of good recycled and new warm clothing were distributed. We are grateful to Carol Collin from the Willunga Circle who collected more than half of these items.

Significant grants from the Suzanne Elliot Trust Fund and support from Burnside Uniting Church Cares as well as continual contributions from other Circles, individuals and small group donations have kept the Circle in a position to respond to  new and ongoing calls for help while adhering to its principle of “filling gaps” in services available. Thank you to all the donors for your generosity.  It really would not happen without you.

Tricia Dundon, Rapid Response Circle Convenor

UPDATE  Since this Report was written on Friday 8 September, a number of new referrals have been made including three families from Afghanistan in dire circumstances and desperate need.  Our Circle is down to our last $1,700 and all Circles are under financial  pressure.  Whether you can make a one off donation or commit to a regular amount, your contribution is urgently needed.  Thank you in advance for your help.

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