4 Welcoming Places You Can Get Help This Christmas

Nativity scene ornaments with fairy lights in background

For most, Christmas is a fun and festive occasion.

However, according to the 2016 Poverty in Australia report from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), there are more than 3 million people living below the poverty line including 739,000 children, making it difficult – if not impossible – for a lot of Australians to celebrate Christmas.

In line with these disturbing figures, 116,000 people are expected to be experiencing homelessness at Christmas. This is even harder for families who are displaced due to domestic violence and abuse or individuals suffering from mental illness.

No one deserves to be alone, left-out or starving this Christmas. At Samaritans, we offer a range of fun, all-inclusive events at Christmas to help share the spirit and support disadvantaged members of communities throughout Newcastle, the Hunter Region, the Central Coast and the Central West.

Learn about our upcoming events and find help this Christmas, whether you need a meal, a place to stay, or just a friend to share the holiday with.

#1. Christmas Lunch with Samaritans

On Christmas Day, we hold a festive lunch at the Wyong Race Club, Singleton Senior Citizens Centre and the Newcastle Foreshore for children, women and men who are experiencing homelessness, are lonely, have no family, or have no money to celebrate.

This Christmas, we’re expecting to feed more than 1,500 people.

We offer food, music, entertainment and a special visit from Santa for the kids. He brings along more than 50 bags of presents and we make sure each and every child gets a gift.

At Samaritans, we believe in bringing people together and sharing the festive spirit. No one should be alone or unable to celebrate, so we invite people from all walks of life to join us, from people sleeping on the streets or in the cars to those living with disabilities. We also welcome new migrants.

Our annual Christmas Lunch is one of the few places in Newcastle & the Central Coast where disadvantaged people can go on Christmas Day. Consider donating to the Samaritans Chuffed Christmas Appeal – a $25 online donation can purchase lunch for someone experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.

#2. Beyond Blue

More than three million Australians suffer with depression and anxiety. It’s a widespread problem that can get much worse around Christmas.

In December, there’s an increase in the number of activities and social events that people have to manage, plus gift shopping that can cause financial and emotional stress. Having to face the crowds at the shops is difficult enough with depression – making the festive season less fun and more of an unbearable struggle.

Christmas can also bring family issues to the forefront of your mind – whether it’s loss, dysfunction, addiction, abuse, disconnection, separation, estrangement or divorce, many people are forced to manage the emotions related to these issues around Christmas.

For people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence and abuse, Christmas can be even harder to cope with.

If you’re struggling this Christmas, please contact Beyond Blue for immediate, professional assistance. Beyond Blue’s phone lines are open 24 hours, seven days a week on 1300 22 4636, or for those who struggle with phone conversations, consider chatting with a mental health professional online.

#3. Samaritans Emergency Relief Centres 

Sometimes emergencies strike when you least expect them. It might be the loss of a job, a supporting member of the family, or even just running out of money to pay the bills.

Each month, Samaritans provide emergency relief for more than 1,000 people throughout Newcastle & the Hunter. We assist with bills and feeding families who are in desperate need of help.

We have multiple relief centres available up until the week before Christmas 2018. If you’re in need of assistance this Christmas, please call ahead and get in touch with one of our relief centres below:

#4. 1800RESPECT

Alcoholism and festive stress cause a serious spike in domestic violence over Christmas. According to domestic violence counselling service, 1800RESPECT, the number of people reaching out for domestic violence support increases by a quarter in December compared to previous months throughout the year.

Police data across Australia also indicates an increase in domestic violence over summer with around 1,000 more reports than they would normally receive in the middle of the year.

If you experience escalated sexual or domestic violence around Christmas, there are counselling services available who can provide support – or help – if needed. 1800RESPECT, like Beyond Blue and LifeLine, provide expert telephone and online counselling for people experiencing violence at home.

Please call 1800 737 732 if you need immediate counselling or start an online chat with the professionals from 1800RESPECT. These professionals understand that all domestic violence experiences are different and can offer tailored counselling to help you.

If you feel you are in immediate danger, please call 000.

There’s support all around you this Christmas – don’t struggle through the holiday season

More than three million Australians are living below the poverty line this Christmas. Domestic violence and depression spikes with alcoholism, financial problems and festive stress.

Christmas is not the best time of year for everyone in Australia.

Here at Samaritans, we offer assistance to more than 1,000 people throughout Newcastle & the Hunter each month, which increases dramatically around the holidays. We want you to remember – you are not alone this Christmas.

Charitable services like Samaritans, 1800RESPECT, Beyond Blue and LifeLine offer expert services through Christmas and the New Year, so you can receive the support you need from people who care. No one should be alone, starving, struggle or afraid at Christmas – or any time of year.

If you need assistance this holiday season, please contact us or one of the services above. We’re here for you.