The Salvation Army is putting out an ambitious call to raise $20 million in its annual Christmas Appeal, with more than 80 per cent of its clients worried they won't be able to buy presents for their kids.
New research from the charity found 71 per cent of people who have sought support through the Salvos' Doorways Emergency Relief Services were worried about affording enough food to eat, 57 per cent were worried about paying their utilities while 51 per cent were stressed about their mental health.
More than 40 per cent of the Australian population was feeling more stressed about finances this year than they were in 2020, and almost 30 per cent were more lonely this year compared to last year.
Salvation Army Hunter spokesperson Rodney Dibley said centres in the NSW Hunter region "have never been so busy".
"The people we are seeing are desperate," he said.
"So many are experiencing mortgage stress and trying to make the rental payments have been a struggle for many locally and with Christmas just around the corner, people are wondering how they will make it through - how will they provide good gifts for their children and families, or how can they afford to put on the traditional Christmas lunch.
"Many of us are fortunate that we have a good network of family or friends who can support us when needed. However, there are those in the community who do not have that support. That's when they reach out to the Salvos in desperation."
The Salvos Christmas Appeal supports Aussies in need during the festive season, through meals, hampers and vouchers for those struggling to make ends meet at Christmas time, gifts and toys to families so kids can wake up on Christmas with a present under the tree, and beds for those in need of accommodation.
"Our 2020 survey of the general population showed that 76 per cent of Australians were looking forward to Christmas," The Salvation Army's Major Bruce Harmer said. "The fact that this has dropped to 68 per cent this year is telling and reflects the huge ongoing challenges being faced by all Australians right now."
Donate to the Christmas Appeal by visiting salvationarmy.org.au or calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58).