Helping the homeless at Christmas, charities putting food on the table

For many Western Australian families Christmas is a time for indulgence but for others, simply putting food on the table is a struggle.

Author : Eliza Laschon

 People queue for a meal at one of Manna's mobile homelessness shelters. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)

People queue for a meal at one of Manna's mobile homelessness shelters. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)

A survey earlier this year found more than 300 people sleeping rough in the Perth metropolitan area, but many charities believe that number is far higher, including those who are couch surfing with friends and staying in temporary accommodation.

Manna is a charity that feeds Perth's homeless and vulnerable at a park in Northbridge six days a week.

"For many families, they don't have enough food let alone to be indulgent, that doesn't happen," Manna Founder Bev Lowe said.

"Families are doing it tough, kids are hungry, they should be nourished, it's Australia."

Mrs Lowe and her husband John started Manna more than 20 years ago.

They said the number of people who visited the park each day has dramatically increased over the past 12 months.

"It's huge, it really is, we've seen 50 a day extra at least, some days more."

"People are doing it tough, it's really hard," Mrs Lowe said.

The charity expected to feed anywhere between 100 to 250 people a day at the park.

Overwhelming pressure at Christmas

Parents Apisaloma Falamoe and Misha Guy have been homeless for 18 months after he lost his job and she was recovering from illness.

They have a hot lunch at the park every day, take enough for the children's dinner, pick the children up from school and then find a place to stay each night, usually on a friend's couch.

The thought of Christmas day his overwhelming the young family.

"At the moment we've got nothing for kids for Christmas, we've got nothing towards Christmas at all," Ms Guy said.

"Just trying to see if we can sort everything over Christmas and get a house for the new year, fingers crossed, that would be a good Christmas."

Manna has spent the past few weeks collecting donated food, presents and essential items for hampers for families and the homeless.

Volunteers have been working to pack them and organise delivery.

"To you and I, they're normal things that we would eat on a Tuesday night but to a lot of families who are struggling, it's like a full meal for a family on Christmas," Manna employee Ky Sinclair said.

" I am working to not just respond to this issue but eliminate this issue of homelessness and poverty."

About 850 families have already requested help from Manna over the Christmas holidays.

Source : ABC

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