How much more can we take? – Vinnies Christmas Appeal 2023

For more than a year, the effects of three seemingly innocuous words have been felt across the board:  


Cost. Of. Living.  

Three words that tell a story that is regularly dominated by the economic implications of ‘cost’ while, all too often, overlooking the human reality of ‘living’.  

While everyone is being hit by higher prices, the most vulnerable in our society are bearing the brunt and have the least capacity to weather the financial hits that keep coming.  

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW has witnessed this play out in real time.  

Demand for assistance was already high last Christmas when one-in-four people were turning to the Society for the first time. Fast forward to now, and that figure has tragically grown to one-in-three.  

Through our Christmas Appeal, we are highlighting how far people are being pushed by the on-going cost of living crisis.   


As the cost for everything goes up, except her income, Anna faces an uphill battle that she can never get ahead of each week.  

“It’s been debilitating,” laments Anna.  

Raising two children as a single mother receiving a disability support pension, the struggle to stay on top of her rent, household bills, groceries and unexpected expenses on an income below the poverty line led Anna to reach out to the Society for support.  

Hoping to gain assistance to purchase a school uniform for her son, Anna received much more when she met Grace, a staff member at one of the Society’s support centres located throughout the state.  

Receiving immediate assistance with a school uniform, food vouchers and groceries, Anna felt seen, heard and treated with dignity at her most vulnerable time of reaching out.  

“[Grace] said, ‘how can we help you?’”  

“I walked out feeling so grateful and touched that there was just such kindness in the world.”  

For Grace, who has spent the past 15 years supporting people in need as part of the Society, stories like Anna’s are becoming commonplace and occurring across all walks of life.   

“It’s not just one group of people that are doing it tough – we’re talking about age pensioners and older people and single mums and families and single men and older single women – it is everyone,” explains Grace.  

“It is everyone coming at us from all angles for all different reasons.  

“Food is a big thing – if someone’s paying their rent, their utilities, maybe some school fees, clothes – there’s not enough left to do the fortnightly shop.”  

In the past year alone, four-in-five people have sought assistance from members of the Society with food, while close to half have felt the strain of housing stress due to rent increases and rising interest rates.  

Grace regards the current crisis as the worst she has experienced in her time with the Society, regularly encountering stories of people trying to stay afloat by taking on debt and drawing on superannuation.  

“In the past, you might give someone some help with food or pay a bill for them, and they sort of moved on and that was it.”  

“Now it’s so much more.”   

For as difficult as the current moment is – and will continue to be in the lead up to Christmas and beyond – she finds comfort in knowing that the Society has the ability to provide support.  

“When people make the connection with Vinnies, they realise that we’re not just there for the immediate problem.”   

“[With Anna], we were able to do so much more and lighten the load for her in more ways than one.  

“We’re there for the long term… we look at the bigger picture so that we can make a real difference.” 

As cost of living pressures continue to mount, Anna has remained in contact with the St Vincent de Paul Society where she has received support with food and housing expenses from our staff, who work alongside a network of dedicated members giving their time to support the most vulnerable in local communities. 

For all the material support Anna has received since reaching out to the Society, the greatest comfort has been the reassurance to know that she won’t be alone during hard times.  

“I know that I will never have to reach rock-bottom again. I know Vinnies will be there for me.”  


The St Vincent de Paul Society has been able to make a difference in the lives of Anna and her family, but so many more still need support in their time of need.  

You can make a difference to people in your community by making a donation to the Vinnies Christmas Appeal at or calling 13 18 12.

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