Every person, their story and their needs are unique says City Mission’s family services team leader Nicky Gray.
After 15 years with the organisation, what keeps Mr Gray coming to work is the knowledge that so many people in our community are doing it tough and are doing the best they can with what they have.
“It’s not easy work, hearing people’s problems day in and day out, but I know that the highest percent of people who come to us are genuine and in need,” he said.
There is no average day for Mr Gray and his team, who see about 10 to 15 clients in a 24-hour period.
“It’s way too many,” he said.
“We just can not get our numbers down and we are booked up probably three or four days ahead, and when someone rings up and wants urgent assistance and needs emergency relief, that’s not going to suit them being three to four days away.”
The team are the first contact point for people in crisis and help to assess each situation.
“We like to sit down with them and talk to them, it’s not about getting handout after handout, we want to know what is going on and find out if there are other ways that we can help or things we can recommend to them that may aid in their lives.”
Most people do want to be self-reliant and Mr Gray said at least 90 per cent of the people who come in did not want to be there.
“They would rather be pulling up in front of the place and giving a donation, they don’t want to come in and ask and it is a humbling experience for them. Many walk in for an assessment and just break down.”
A vast array of incidents could lead to someone entering the doors of City Mission in search of help.
While most clients are on some form of welfare Mr Gray said there was also “the working poor” who find it hard to make ends meet, especially when supporting a family.
“It doesn’t take much for something to happen to create a crisis where you are in an emergency … an unexpected winter bill, a death, your car engine blows and then there is no spare cash because everything has gone on surviving,” he said.