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Cost of living tough but we’re still giving, says Red Cross

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More than half of us are feeling the pinch this festive season, with rising cost of living pressures dampening our Christmas cheer. 

In fact, 54% believe their current economic situation might affect their ability to connect and celebrate with loved ones this year. 

Such is the sad reality revealed in a recent Australian Red Cross survey conducted last month. 

Only half of the 1,000 people surveyed say they were looking forward to the coming festive season, compared to 60% in 2021.  

“After years of interrupted festive celebrations due to COVID, we know many would like to reconnect this festive season, but financial hardship may get in the way,” Red Cross executive Penny Harrison said. 

“We also cannot forget those who are still experiencing the ongoing devastating impacts of flooding which continue to affect so many across eastern and southern Australia.

“Coupled with the rising cost of living pressures, and resurgence of COVID-19 cases we may see some take a more low-key approach to celebrating.”  

It’s not all doom and gloom though, with 91% of respondents still hoping to spend key celebration days with family and friends, despite the uncertainty. 

How you can help 

The good news is despite most of us having less to spend on celebrations, travel and gifts, 63% still plan to give back to those in need. 

The top three ways people plan to help others feel more connected were donating goods (36%), money (27%), or checking in with isolated people in their networks (23%).  

“The festive season can often bring with it feelings of stress and pressure, particularly for those who may be concerned about their current financial situation. Social circles have also shrunk, with 58% of people surveyed feeling like they have fewer social connections now, compared to 5-10 years ago.  

“It’s encouraging to see that despite the cost-of-living pressures impacting many, people are still thinking of ways to connect with others this year.  

“This year, our volunteers will make more than 2,700 social support calls nationally to people on Christmas day as part of the TeleCross program, a service that runs 365 days a year,” Ms Harrison said.

Lambton-based Red Cross community programs officer Katrina Butterworth says many people in the region are experiencing loneliness.

“Through our local programs we try and help people feel more connected with their community and others and are always looking for more volunteers to become a friend through our social visiting programs,” she said.

“Just a couple of hours every week or fortnight could make the world of difference to an isolated older person, and maybe becoming a volunteer could help you connect more, too.

“Here in the greater Newcastle and Lake Macquarie areas we always have people waiting to be matched with a friendly volunteer visitor and an ever-growing list of people needing a check in call.”

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