Every month, the Geraldton ministers behind the local Salvation Army see up to 300 people who are in desperate need of financial assistance, food relief or help to provide shelter. The Salvation Army Geraldton Corps is changing its emergency relief system, introducing an EFTPOS card for more consistency in support delivery and versatility to assist those seeking financial assistance. Recently appointed ministers Peter and Wendy Spindler have been in their roles for two months, and aside from running multiple church services and helping the second-hand store, they are seeing an influx of people in need of assistance. The Salvation Army in Geraldton sees about 270-300 people a month spread over financial assistance, emergency food relief, doorways case work and homelessness services. In the past, the Salvos would offer face-to-face assessment and store-specific vouchers to those in need. Now, community members can call an assistance line and receive emergency financial relief, particularly useful for people impeded by ability, language or distance. The EFTPOS system will allow recipients to spend the money in a variety of stores, excluding alcohol and gambling centres. The ministers said there was a large demand for financial assistance in Geraldton, and the new assistance model would provide better access for those in need. “The demand has increased, especially on the back of the cyclone last year,” Mr Spindler said. “People need assistance to cope while houses are being rebuilt. “Geraldton being a regional centre, we tend to get people from the outlying areas coming into town.” Mrs Spindler attributed the rise in calls for assistance to the rising cost of living and interest rates. “People are finding that makes it a little more difficult to manage their money and get the necessities of life . . . for some people they’ve never seen interest rates that high,” she said. Regional Alliance West operations manager Chris Gabelish agreed there was an increased need for emergency food relief in the Greater Geraldton region. “Ye,s there is an increased need and that can be particularly a result of homelessness. Our emergency relief services are fairly busy, as are most services,” Mr Gabelish said. He estimated RAW provided emergency services for eight people in one day on Tuesday, November 15. He said homelessness was the key reason for the rise, as well as debt, the cost of living and higher interest rates. Salvation Army public relations secretary Warren Palmer said the changes would take time to settle and could require adjustments, but over time he believed they would provide greater access, with a focus on delivering support when people needed it most. “The challenges of cost of living and interest rate rises, however, no doubt make our task harder,” he said. The Salvos phone assistance line operates from Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm on 6210 3288.