Shepparton Family and Financial Services is where you go when you have nowhere else
The humble brick building in Naomi Street is easy to miss. There are no flashy signs or state of the art premises, in fact if you hadn’t been referred by other services or recommended to visit by close friends or family, you probably wouldn’t know it existed.
It is that way by design.
As Manager, Tracie Driscoll tells me, if they were located in a flash office space in town, their clients wouldn’t come. Not because they don’t desperately need their services, but because Shepparton Family and Financial Services is where you go when you have nowhere else, and more often than not, you don’t want anyone to know you have been there.
The non-for-profit service became a “catch all” when it reopened its doors immediately following the floods and 500 people rushed through the doors in two days seeking financial services, emergency food aid and NIL loans. Presentations at this scale is more than double the normal number of clients seeking aid. This volume of need has not slowed down.
A nimble team of volunteers, supported by Tracie and a Financial Capability worker, operate around the clock to support our communities most vulnerable. But even they could see the level of demand following the floods was insurmountable, and measures needed to be put in place to support staff, volunteers, avoid burn out and ensure adequate resources are in place so those at their most desperate are not being turned away.
It is predicted this level of demand for Shepparton Family and Financial Services will remain for up to two years as our community recovers from the floods.
Funds from the Community Flood Recovery Campaign have allowed SFFS to scale up their operations and put on a Financial Counsellor who will sit down with you and work through options to get you back on your feet. This one-on-one support is exactly what is needed in times of crisis when you feel like you can’t get ahead.
As well as supporting with funds from the Community Flood Recovery Campaign, Greater Shepparton Foundation have been lobbying State Government to recognise and support grassroots organisations, like Shepparton Family and Financial Services, that have stepped up during the flood crisis.
Minister Danny Pearson MP and The Hon. Colin Brooks took time to visit Shepparton Family and Financial Services in late November to gain a greater understanding of the important work they do in supporting the Greater Shepparton community. Thank you to our outgoing Independent Member for Shepparton, Suzanna Sheed for brokering this opportunity.
Without adequate and stable funding for grassroots organisations like this, a whole segment of our community could very likely slip through the gaps.