Rocherlea father Heath Nash is no stranger to "financial hardship".
"I'm the youngest of five, and unfortunately through life we had to access some services from time-to-time. I was well aware those groups were there from a young age," he said.
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Now a parent himself Mr Nash does well to remain upbeat when discussing how his life has led him to need to use those services to provide for his own children.
His unbridled positivity might objectively seem unusual for someone who openly admits to being down on his luck financially, but the assistance he has received from St Vincent de Paul coupled with unadulterated love for and from his four children has him holding his head high.
Mr Nash, now 39, has just lived through the most difficult phase of his life.
My power was cut off for five days ... My children had to watch their fish die in their fish tank.- Heath Nash
"That was the last storm that Tasmania had. For five days we had to haul into one room, we walked around in headlamps in a blistering wind and I stood outside in pouring rain and cooked dinner on a barbecue. That's pretty hard."
After paying rent, school fees, power and other daily expenses, his $480 per fortnight payment sometimes meant someone had to go without. He said as a father, he always put himself last. Through the most tough times Mr Nash said he often had to "rob Peter to feed Paul", which meant himself sometimes having to go without food.
Like many Tasmanians in a similar situation, Mr Nash gets by on the assistance of emergency relief services and specialist assistance groups like St Vincent de Paul, Launceston City Mission, The Benevolent Society and The Salvation Army.
Vinnies in Tasmania, last year, provided assistance more than 21,000 times, and Mr Nash said without that assistance he is unsure how he would have moved to the point where he is now aiming to transition to a more stable way of life.
"Now, thankfully, I'm moving forward. For the average family to make it through, we are living week-to-week," he said.
It was not always the case for Mr Nash, who once had a well-paying job that offered a company car and phone. But a series of difficulties and a frayed social support handed down to him by an upbringing where money was tight has meant he fell harder than others.
Like a trapezist without a safety net, an injury at work and family difficulties mixed with a dose of selflessness during which he was the sole carer for his mother, and on another occasion he quit his job to look after his children, Mr Nash came plummeting back to hard earth.
Amid recovery from that work injury last Christmas, and years after Mr Nash had reached out for support the first time, his family shared a special moment at the annual Launceston Community Christmas lunch.
He said his children, aged between 13 and nine, lit up when Father Christmas brought them gifts, and being able to sit around a table and indulge in Christmas grub filled him, and them, with happiness that otherwise might have been substituted for a home without a tree or presents.
Mr Nash said Christmas was, despite the support he has been given, the most difficult time of the year.
While he was grateful to be able to spend it with his children - who he said are the priority in his life - he was "disappointed" he was unable to splash out and buy them anything they wanted.
"Not all of us can go out and buy a Nintendo Switch, and PS5 and everything else that's 'wonderful' in the world," he said.
"The first Christmas I experienced with the children ... we could only afford to get gifts at a shop called Chickenfeed, and the heartbreak I had when I watched the gifts smash and break and fall to pieces in the space of five minutes, I vowed to never do that ever again.
I'm still a big believer of 'it's the thought that counts', but it's hard as a day when you watch other people around you handing out the shiny stuff ... you feel disappointed.- Heath Nash
"So when we are all drawn together at Christmas, and people are looking to put their feet up and relax, there's some of us not relaxing."
While last year at Albert Hall the Nash family had one of their best Christmases, their 2021 celebration is still "in doubt" because they have not been able to secure a table for the limited-capacity community lunch.
Despite the unknown, Mr Nash was affirmed by the fact he would at least be with his children.
"Being there together is what it's about. It's about reconnecting, and family, and love. The biggest message for our Christmas is just family love," he said.
Though several families miss out on the community lunch, like the Nash family might, charities are banding together to provide holiday season relief.
Vinnies also send out Christmas hampers just before Christmas Day for families to share in celebration. These hampers are directly aided by donations to The Examiner's Empty Stocking Appeal. The appeal, so far, has raised $32,684.15 from 44 donations.
Vinnies Christmas Hamper Projector coordinator Eric Welsh said about 120 families and 270 people in Launceston and George Town would be beneficiaries of the hampers in 2021.
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