MEMBERS of the Maritime Union of Australia Newcastle branch have raised $16,500 to help local families and vulnerable members of the community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Despite facing their own economic uncertainty, union members reached out to local community organisations to identify ways they could deliver immediate support to working families in extreme financial hardship.

In partnership with Eastlakes Family Support Service, more than a dozen local families have been provided with direct financial assistance.

Donations also have been made to the Soul Cafe and the Development and Relief Agency, assisting the organisations to cook meals for people experiencing homelessness and deliver food hampers to families in need.

MUA Newcastle branch secretary Glen Williams said all three local community services had faced a surge in demand, with maritime workers keen to do their bit to assist.

“Many working families have found themselves in financial difficulty because of the COVID-19 pandemic and MUA members wanted to do their bit to look after people who are doing it tough after losing their jobs or homes,” Mr Williams said.

“We partnered with three local organisations with a long history of helping those most in need, providing direct financial support for more than a dozen families facing extreme hardship and providing funding for food hampers and meals for people experiencing homelessness in the Newcastle area,” he said.

“Trade unionism is about working people sticking together and looking out for each other, which is why MUA members have given what they can to lend a helping hand to those in our community most in need.”

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Soul Cafe CEO Rick Prosser thanked members of the MUA Newcastle branch for their support.

“On behalf of our team, and particularly the guests we serve each, the Soul Cafe is greatly appreciative of this tremendous community support,” Mr Prosser said.

“This donation will enable our work to continue as we serve some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

DARA food programs co-ordinator Baden Ellis said volunteers had been working tirelessly to meet the increased demand for food support in the Newcastle community.

“These funds give DARA the capacity to produce an additional 1,000 meals to provide to Novocastrians affected by COVID-19,” Mr Ellis said.

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