HOPING FOR BETTER TIMES: Salvation Army captain Phil Sharp holding a free DVD for people who suffer, or may know someone who is suffering, from depression because of their financial situation.
HOPING FOR BETTER TIMES: Salvation Army captain Phil Sharp holding a free DVD for people who suffer, or may know someone who is suffering, from depression because of their financial situation. DAVID NIELSEN

Numbers seeking support goes up

MORE people are being forced to seek financial help, but the Salvation Army says people need to 'think positive'.

Lismore Salvos captain, Phil Sharp, said they had seen a 15 to 25 per cent increase in the number of people asking them for assistance.

“People need help with food, rent, buying clothing and paying the electricity bill,” he said.

“We had a fairly quiet period after the Federal Government's cash handout, but our numbers are on the rise again.

“We're seeing people who have not called on our services before.”

Although the economic downturn has put a strain on the Salvation Army's services, Capt Sharp said they urged people to look on the bright side.

“It's hard to tell people that, but the 'glass half full' scenario is much better than the 'glass half empty' one,” he said.

“I believe it's something that we, as a community, need to do.”

This comes as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner warned the year ahead would involve 'extraordinary challenges'.

Mr Tanner even hinted the Government could cut taxes to try to stave off a recession.

He expressed concern about China's economic situation, saying it was 'worse than expected'.

And Mr Rudd said 2009 could be one of the 'most troubled years of our age'.

Reports yesterday showed superannuation funds lost an average of 19.7 per cent last year.

Retailers are also feeling the pinch.

Store leader of Wallace Bishop at Lismore, Evda Cuthbert, said three full-time workers had resigned, but she was not sure if they would all be replaced.

“Business has definitely slowed down,” she said.

“It's slower than we anticipated, but we're just working harder.”

Capt Sharp said many people on the Northern Rivers were suffering emotionally from the financial pressures.

“I've seen some people who have been pretty intense, but we've been able to help,” he said.

Free DVDs on coping with depression are available from the Salvation Army on Cambridge Drive, Goonellabah.

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