East Maitland church steps up crisis relief

HELPING HAND:  Father David Battrick of St Peter’s Church East Maitland with emergency relief co-ordinator Judy Cordwell. Picture by ALAN HARDIE
HELPING HAND: Father David Battrick of St Peter’s Church East Maitland with emergency relief co-ordinator Judy Cordwell. Picture by ALAN HARDIE

A special service operating from St Peter’s Anglican Church in East Maitland – offering food and vouchers – expects to support several hundred hungry families in the present flood and power crisis.

Known as St Peter’s Emergency Relief Service, it is a joint venture with Samaritans that was launched on Thursday to help people in need.

The centre in Bank Street will open Monday to Friday this week and next week, from 10am to 1pm.

“We are offering food assistance and some voucher support for people who are finding it tough since the flood,” East Maitland parish priest Father David Battrick, who runs the service, said.

“We are also concerned about people who will be hit by a loss of wages last week and who will face increased costs.

“We are setting up to assist several hundred people in need and we have some food that has been stockpiled.

“Several companies have sent us food to distribute and we are grateful to them all, together with a fast food company that sent us a supply of bread rolls.

“Some rural people who have not been affected by the floods have also sent us food.

“And a clothing store in Maitland has provided clothing and that can be distributed with vouchers people can get from us.”

He also appealed to people to donate any food they might not need to the relief service.

“We still need items like cereals, and long-life milk, while blankets are always very welcome,” Fr Battrick said.

“The storm damage to property around East Maitland has been very significant.

“We are also concerned about people who are isolated in their homes and could become very distressed.”

Fr Battrick warned of a knock-on effect where people had used money to survive that they would usually have used for other necessary purposes.

Program co-ordinator Judith Cordwell said: “We have already helped a few people who lost all the food in their freezers and fridges due to power cuts.”

Winter appeal starts

Samaritans has launched its winter appeal early after the recent severe weather and its impact on the community, CEO Cec Shevels said.

“This is not about a handout,” Mr Shevels said. “This is about understanding. It is a difficult time for many people and Samaritans is there to help.”

In emergencies, people can ring Samaritans on 4922 1500 from 10am to 2pm week days.