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Lifeline’s emerald connection to 55 years of community support

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Lifeline Hunter will stage a free virtual event this weekend for a COVID-19 delayed celebration of 55 years of offering hope and support to the people of the region.

The hour-long Emerald Connection on Saturday 5 March, hosted by Triple M’s Tanya Wilks and Steve G, promises to be an evening of fun, connection and celebration.

Lifeline’s community development manager Pat Calabria said, heart-breakingly, the pandemic forced the cancellation of festivities several times, including its Emerald Ball.

Emerald Connection will also serve as a fundraiser.

“We also couldn’t let our ball auction and raffle prizes go to waste,” he said.

“They are available to bid on and purchase now and raffle winners will be announced at the event.”

Mr Calabria said with so much uncertainty, anxiety and stress in the community, Lifeline had never been needed more.

Calls to Lifeline’s 13 11 14 crisis support service are up 25% since the start of the pandemic.

On New Year’s Day, Lifeline received 3,726 calls nationally, the highest ever number in a single day.

“We have put on more local crisis supporters and, while they are largely volunteers, it costs $3,500 to train and support each person,” Mr Calabria said.

“Each call to Lifeline costs an average of $39 and nationally we expect to take one million calls this year.

“Local Lifeline centres rely on community assistance to keep our 13 11 14 and other free services such as counselling running.

“We’ve seen a fall in revenue locally because our retail shops and fundraising events were significantly impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.” 

He said Reverend John Chegwidden started Lifeline Hunter in 1966, three years after the service began in Sydney.

“We have a proud history of being in community, for community and with community,” Mr Calabria said.

“Our commitment to the people of the Hunter has never been stronger.

“If you or someone you know is struggling, we’re here to listen without judgement, acknowledge the pain and offer hope.”

A number of Hunter businesses have helped to make the event possible including Out of the Square Media, saberVox, WesTrac, Regional Australia Bank, NCIG, Hunter Signs, Gencom and Powerhouse Comms.

The evening will also showcase the Everyone Has a Story campaign – an initiative of Hunter businesses Molycop and Out of the Square Media.

The initiative aims to break down the barriers and reduce the stigma around mental illness by employees of participating businesses sharing personal stories with each other and with employees receiving guidance and support to those facing similar challenges.

For more information about Emerald Connection, including the raffle and auction, visit www.lifelinehunter.org.au

EVENT DETAILS

What: Emerald Connection – free online event to support Lifeline Hunter

When: Saturday 5 March from 5pm-6pm

Where: Online – live-streamed via Lifeline Hunter’s Facebook page and YouTube channel (No need to book)

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