Some days the phone runs off the hook at the Salvation Army's Bendigo headquarters.
Bendigo Major Andrew Walker said he's seen a slow increase in the number of people seeking help from the Salvation Army over the past few years, to the point where some days they struggle to keep up with the demand.
The Salvation Army has helped more than 1300 families in the Bendigo region over the past year, with assistance worth a total of $213,000.
The federal government provides some of the funds for the assistance programs, but most the Salvation Army raises itself. The Red Shield Appeal is the organisation's major fundraiser, each May.
Mr Walker said rising costs that had not kept pace with incomes was what meant more people in Bendigo were were seeking relief.
"A lot of the central services have got more expensive, such as power, water," he said.
"There's been very little increase in people's incomes and payments over the last five years as well, comparative to some of the increases in costs."
Unexpected bills, family violence, homelessness or seasonal costs, like the start of the school year, could all force people to seek help.
"The main catalyst would probably be an unexpected large bill comes in, when you're sort of living paycheck to paycheck, that can be very difficult," Mr Walker said.
"Roughly one in 10 [people in Bendigo] at some point in the year will wake up one morning and not have any food in the cupboards, that's at the extreme end, but then there's a lot who are just scraping through week to week, paycheck to paycheck."
The Salvation Army will be raising money to fund its programs in Bendigo with the upcoming appeal.
Mr Walker said the money raised in Bendigo would be used for local programs, such as the Doorways emergency relief, alcohol and drug programs and other community engagement programs.
Mr Walker encouraged people to volunteer or donate to the Red Shield Appeal.
"For many people we're only one major event away from needing assistance ourselves, it's good to help others when we're in a position to help," he said.
"We quite often have people come in seeking help, saying, 'I never thought I'd be the one needing help'. Quite often life throws those curveballs."
- Red Shield Appeal, May 25-26, volunteer by calling 13 72 58 or register online at salvationarmy.org.au
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