Bob Rutherford, of the Uniting Care Lismore Regional Mission, warns his charity will be able to assist only a small number of the city’s poor this Christmas because of a dramatic decline in donations.
Bob Rutherford, of the Uniting Care Lismore Regional Mission, warns his charity will be able to assist only a small number of the city’s poor this Christmas because of a dramatic decline in donations.

Church forced to cut aid as cash dries up

THE financial crisis will act as Scrooge this Christmas for at least a hundred Lismore residents who rely on the charity of Uniting Care Lismore's Regional Mission.

The value of food vouchers will be halved from last year and everyone will miss out on fuel and transport vouchers as the crisis takes its toll on those in need.

Superintendent Minster for the Uniting Care Lismore Regional Mission, Bob Rutherford, said the charity, which is entirely funded by donations, did not have the funds to provide its usual Christmas services.

“Last year we helped about 100 people in need. This year we will be able to afford to help about 25,” he said.

“Last year we also provided travel vouchers for people needing transport due to sickness or a death in the family. This year we have had to cut these vouchers.

“Our food vouchers will also be reduced, and what used to be a $30 voucher will now be a $15 one.”

Funds normally used to finance Christmas charity projects had been frozen due to the economic crisis.

However, Mr Rutherford said the charity could easily transfer funds and the problem lay in the fact people could not afford to donate this year.

“What we have found is that it is not the well-off people with good jobs that support these programs, its middle to low-income earners,” he said.

“It's the people who are the battlers.

“They are the ones that seem to empathise and seem to understand what it is like to struggle.”

Mr Rutherford said the situation was frustrating, but it was no good trying to 'blame the Government for something that is a worldwide problem'.

Despite the setbacks, Mr Rutherford remained positive about the coming few months, saying he had seen the same thing during the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“People are resourceful and we will still be helping people out. It just won't be with as much money,” he said.



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