The Kempsey Samaritans have continued to provide support services to the more vulnerable groups in the community during the pandemic.
Samaritans Community Services Manager Michelle Stocks said the pandemic has had an impact on people in the community reaching out for support during this isolating time.
"There was a decrease of people seeking assistance to begin with because of JobKeeper, having the extra money each fortnight was positive for people who were out of work or at risk of being homeless," she said.
"But because of the lockdown, we also noticed a decrease in women seeking assistance for domestic violence incidents due to the isolation and limited opportunities to get out and find support."
The Kempsey Women's Refuge run by the Samaritans provides crisis accommodation and outreach to women and their children who have experienced, or are experiencing, domestic violence.
The Samaritans also run a separate service, the Community Hub, which offers help to women and children facing homelessness in the local community.
"We are expecting to see an increase in women seeking support with the easing of restrictions and the changes to Government payments in the next few months. There will be that increase in financial and rental stress," Michelle said.
"The pandemic has also placed added pressure on families which can have an impact on the number of domestic violence incidents in the community. Just because we have seen a decrease in women looking for help, doesn't mean the number of incidents have reduced."
Michelle said the pandemic has also had a significant impact on homelessness in the Kempsey region.
"There is already a shortage of available housing in the area, both private and social, and the pandemic has also placed more rental stress on people," she said.
"We welcome any investment by the State and Federal Government towards infrastructure that will help house individuals who are homeless."
We are still open and our 24/7 number is always there for locals who need to reach out.Michelle Stocks
Michelle said, in the Oxley electorate, there are approximately 700 people who are homeless and 4400 houses needed.
"In Kempsey there is less than one per cent vacancy rate for housing, there is a huge need for more available housing.
"Our biggest message to the Government is for more social housing in our area. All support organisations are lobbying hard for Local and Federal Government to commit to more housing infrastructure.
"The plans released for the units in South Kempsey is a step in the right direction. What we are looking at is the areas that the housing is placed, we need to make sure they are safe and accessible for people."
Michelle said support services are bracing for the next few months when JobKeeper payments decrease and added pressures are put on families once again.
"We're also preparing for an increased number of women seeking support for domestic violence incidents because the pandemic has created an isolating bubble and we will see the fallout from this period over the coming months," she said.
"We are also heading towards Christmas, which is a high stress time for many people, it's creating the perfect storm and all support services are preparing for this."
The Kempsey Samaritans have continued to provide around the clock support during the pandemic and encourage anyone who has found themselves in a vulnerable situation to reach out and seek support.
"We are still open and our 24/7 number is always there for locals who need to reach out," Michelle said.
"We are asking people to call first before coming to the hub to ensure we are able to keep social distancing practices in place. We are always here for support."
If you need support, contact Kempsey Samaritans on 6562 8411.