MANDURAH could be set for a double dose of the homelessness crisis in the next six months as Job Seeker payments dry up.
The Peel Community Kitchen, based out of Sutton Hall, is bracing for a rush of hungry homeless people despite their current numbers being halved.
“During COVID we saw a reduction of people coming in,” Peel Community Kitchen Secretary Angelo Gangemi said.
“Since Phase 4 (when they resumed almost normal operations) was introduced we have also seen a reduction by about half, and that’s because of the extra money that has been given to everyone.
“But we expect a surge in numbers.
“Our concern is as the money is phased out the numbers will not only increase, but they will exponentially increase because more and more people are going to be thrown in the deep end.”
While the government relief payments have been a godsend for many Australians, they can’t last forever, and Mr Gangemi said solutions would be hard to find as the situation continuously changes.
“I think what the government has done has been great because they are helping people,” he said.
“I wish I had the solution, but no one has a solution to this because no one knows how it will all pan out.”
The Kitchen was able to remain open throughout WA’s lock-down and Road to Recovery, getting a first-hand look of COVID’s impacts on the most vulnerable members of our community.
“We were glad we were able to continue helping the community,” Mr Gangemi said.
“Donations dropped off dramatically, which is no surprise at all, and people could not come inside.”
The menu had to be reduced to sandwiches and toasted sandwiches, and people were only allowed to pick them up before having to leave, missing out on the social aspect of eating a meal with other people generally encouraged by the Kitchen.
“When the inclement weather started coming in, we made provisions so they could come in`inside the hall and pick up the food but they could not hang around, which was terrible,” Mr Gangemi said.
“The most difficult thing was not knowing what was going on and a real concern about having to stop.”
There were also concerns for volunteers with many being elderly and without funds they had to turn to Lotterywest for a grant, which was thankfully approved.
As WA continues to maintain the spread of the virus donations are picking up, and Mr Gangemi was quick to ensure everyone the Kitchen would “most definitely” go on assisting those who need it.