Ararat Emergency Relief has remained flexible throughout various changes in restrictions to continue catering to the urgent needs of the community's most vulnerable.
The group is comprised of staff and volunteers from the Ararat branches of the Salvation Army, Anglican Church, Uniting Church Outreach, Life Links Church, and St Vincent de Paul.
It provides support with food, clothing, transport, and accommodation for those in need and seeks to refer people to better-equipped services to offer more long-term support.
Ararat Emergency Relief president Rick Thomas said while the number of people the group supports has mainly remained the same during the pandemic, people's needs have changed.
"We haven't really had a marked increase in the numbers. We were very busy about three weeks ago, we had 14 days in a row that were pretty heavy but it was surprisingly light last week (during the circuit-breaker lockdown)," he said.
"There have been more people coming to us for accommodation; that's probably been the one increase that we've had. We have been able to put them into short term (up to three days) accommodation.
"There's remarkably little on the market, and therefore the cost of rentals can be higher. So it's terribly difficult for locals to move into that market. We think that's the most serious issue, there are too many people who are just cut out, so you do have people sleeping rough."
Mr Thomas said Ararat Emergency Relief has had to adapt to how it provides support due to fluctuating lockdown restrictions.
"During COVID we've gone onto a phone system, so there's not much face-to-face contact. Instead, people phone up and we deliver," he said.
"It's much easier for people if you're open: They can be down the street and just drop by and get some food. So there's been some restraints for us.
"We can still do things as we have before but I think it affects the clients who can only come out for five reasons and don't seem to be out as much as usual."
A rotating roster has one of the five agencies that make up Ararat Emergency Relief be on call each week.
People requiring the group's services can find the number of the person or group on call at any of the five churches. Alternatively, they can phone Ararat Community Relief Centre on 5355 0980, who will provide them with the appropriate contact details.
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