City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Path2Change Chief Executive Jen O’Sullivan and Councillor Carol Duncan.

More than 30 community organisations across Newcastle have jointly received $550,000 to support the provision of critical services made urgent by COVID-19.

City of Newcastle identified early in the pandemic that 31 groups would struggle to deliver services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the community and initiated the Boost Our City targeted grants program in response.

One of the recipients, Path2Change, provides support to youth who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in the Newcastle and Hunter Region.

Chief Executive Jen O’Sullivan said the city’s young people had been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

“Many of the young people we support have been extremely anxious and required extra support from staff to manage the changing landscape of our community living with COVID-19,” she said.

“We have recorded an increase in young people requiring assistance during the pandemic.

“The financial support received by the city equates to more young people receiving the helping hand they need and deserve.

“We are also focused on ensuring their social wellbeing is supported as maintaining social connection has been difficult leading to increased feelings of isolation.

“The grant funding we have received from the City of Newcastle will support the ‘Empower Me’ Life Skills Program which focuses on helping young people build and enhance their strengths and capabilities, through the development of foundational life skills or improved outcomes to manage barriers they may be facing.

“This program develops resilience and offers practical solutions to significant challenges and hurdles they may come up against.”

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said community organisations had been on the frontline of helping Novocastrians by responding to a range of challenges.

“The intent of the funding package was to support existing service providers to cope with increased urgency and demand for support services, including supported living, crisis support, welfare, community transport and meal services,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Countless vulnerable people in our community rely on a helping hand from our local charitable organisations, so when they were under pressure, we were eager to provide a boost.

“The benefit of this funding is far-reaching and has meant that some of our most at risk locals, like young people and women, have received support in the face of increased hardship.”

Cr Nelmes said $150,000 was rolled out through a Rapid Response Grant Program to deal with the initial community impact of COVID-19, which was then followed by the larger, targeted Boost Our City initiative.

Apart from Path2Change, other recipients included Compass Housing, Red Nose, Newcastle Meals on Wheels, Awabakal, Nova for Women and Children Inc, Hunter Multicultural Communities, Hunter Community Legal Centre, Home-Start National Inc, Gateway Care, and Victims of Crime Assistance League Hunter.

The Muloobinba Aboriginal Corporation, Hunter Region Working Women’s Group, Catholic Care, Financial Counselling Hunter Valley Project, Justiz Community Limited, Cancer Patients Foundation, Acon Health Limited, and Hunter Homeless Connect also shared in the grant.

The following organisations rounded out the list of groups: Sparkhaus Studio, The Trustee for the Salvation Army (NSW) Property Trust, Zara’s House Refugees and Partners, Family Planning NSW, Soul Cafe Life Church, Lifeline Direct Limited, Newcastle Multiple Birth Club, Got Your Back Sista, Seventh Day Adventist Church North NSW Conference, Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Healthy Change Challenge, and Diocese Maitland Newcastle Development Relief Agency.

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