An open letter to the residents of Cardinia Shire, November 2019.
Subject: The closure of the 4Cs Crisis Relief Centre
Dear Cardinia Shire residents,
After more than twenty five years of helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the Shire through their personal crisis, it is with a heavy heart that we need to announce the closure of 4Cs on Wednesday 27 November 2019.
This decision has not been made lightly and the process has been ongoing for 18 months, with every avenue of possible funding explored. In a nutshell, there is no secure, long-term funding available for 4Cs to continue operating and this has left us with no choice but to close our doors.
4Cs was founded by Pastor Don Press of Cardinia Christian Church in 1993 as a way of providing hope and help to those struggling in the Shire.
Since then it has become established as a place of acceptance and assistance for many. 4Cs provided emergency relief (ER) services to thousands of disadvantaged and vulnerable families over the years. In recent times we have seen a 10-15% year on year increase as the Shire’s population has grown and today we are experiencing even higher numbers despite only being able to open three days a week in 2019.
The dilemma of trying to meet this increased client demand with decreasing dollars available has led to the decision to close. 4Cs is a crisis relief charity which has always operated transparently and been fully audited annually. Our budgeting has always been tight because we give everything we receive back into the community.
You could say that we’ve been run on a shoestring and much prayer. The prayer remains but the shoestring is broken and we are the now the one in crisis.
At our present size and scale, and to meet the client demand, it costs around $400,000 to $450,000 a year to run 4Cs five days a week with a full staffing complement, yet the ‘social value’ (what we effectively add in real value to our community) has been quoted at something in the order of $20 million. The main cost component for 4Cs is the logistics ‘food bank operation’ that we run for the Cardinia Shire community.
We have always been able to access Federal funding for ER (around $170,000 a year – still less than 40% of our budget) but this shrinking pool of DSS money, the increased red tape and numerous applicants has meant that we have no funding in place from early 2020 and beyond.
What Federal monies we have received up to now (the equivalent of about $8.16 per family visit in 2017/18) we have always ‘multiplied’ by distributing the tonnes of donated food (more than 300,000 kilos in 2017/18) to enable families to receive up to 12 weeks of groceries worth around $2,300. No other frontline ER agency in
Victoria does what 4Cs does. This is our point of difference – the ‘multiplier effect’ of rescuing food and getting it quickly into the neediest hands. It’s a proven operational model that works extremely effectively, and yet, despite our best efforts, it will not be funded beyond 2020 to continue caring for those in need.
A great deal of time and energy has been spent lobbying at all levels of Government for years, without success.
The State Government has never contributed a cent to the 4Cs ER service which helps so many people who find themselves in ‘Situational Poverty’ because of an unexpected crisis. Every one of us is only an incident away from such a crisis, whether it be the loss of a loved one or a job, family breakdown, financial stress, illness or accident.
A crisis can impact anyone, anywhere at any time. That’s why an ER presence in Cardinia Shire is a non-negotiable necessity.
We all expect to have access to schools, kindergartens, roads, hospitals and other essential facilities; why should a crisis relief centre be treated any differently? Is it because we don’t want to admit our need of such a place?
If you were to experience a crisis tomorrow, where would you go for help? Where would you be referred to?
We receive calls for assistance every day from all manner of services and organisations on behalf of people experiencing a crisis, and it’s not always for groceries, unpaid bills or prescriptions; we help clients who are living in skips, drains and cars every day we are open.
Some thank yous:
• 4Cs is run by a handful of dedicated staff and an army of brilliant volunteers numbering around 120 currently, who have all served tirelessly – they are the real heroes.
• Cardinia Shire Council have generously paid the rent on our factory for 10 years and we commend their
• Our gratitude also goes to the numerous local businesses, fundraisers, farmers, community organisations, churches, schools and supermarkets who have been such a significant part of the journey.
Your generosity has enabled us to welcome and assist countless struggling people through their crisis with
respect and dignity.
As our journey comes to an end, two simple facts remain: one is a challenge and one an opportunity.
The challenge for the Cardinia Community is, how does it plan to meet the needs of a growing number of people in crisis without a ‘4Cs-like’ organisation available to them 50 weeks of the year?
The continual population growth in Pakenham East and Officer South will inevitably result in higher numbers requiring ER assistance.
Food insecurity and rental/mortgage stress are already major issues in the Shire and they don’t just occur in December.
Every challenge brings an opportunity.
The Salvation Army Pakenham have stepped up to help transition 4Cs clients and we are very grateful to them, but the need is growing along with the population.
Who else will get involved to enable this vital work of bringing help and hope to people in crisis continue? If there is no large scale,
efficient, well connected and properly funded ER outlet in Cardinia Shire moving forward there will be significant problems created which will impact all of us.
This is our community and a crisis relief centre should be an integral part of it. Who has a heart for the hurting where we live and the means to fund such an operation to ensure they receive the helping hand they need to get through their crisis?
We are confident that someone is out there and they can make a difference to so many lives.
Are you that person?
In closing, everyone associated with 4Cs counts it an honour and a privilege to have had the opportunity to serve the vulnerable in our community for so long.
We have made genuine connections and friendships and we are all the better for that.
Our heart has always been to be the hands and feet of Jesus in order to demonstrate His love for everyone by blessing them generously in a practical way.
We’ve been doing this for over 25 years but the time has come to pass the baton. We have run our race, made a difference and finish well.
Thank you for all your
support, dedication and sacrifice.
The 4Cs Committee of Management