MAJOR regional fundraising event the Limestone Coast Support Homeless People Luncheon has been cancelled for 2022 after continual postponements since 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Event committee chairman Barry Stafford said ongoing restrictions meant proceeding on the rescheduled date of April 8 this year was not practical due to uncertainties regarding venue capacity, interstate travel and potential isolation for participants if someone attended and later tested positive to COVID-19.
“The impact of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, including continued restrictions on trade and hospitality venues, has forced our hand,” he said.
“This would have been the fifth time we would have had to postpone the luncheon and it is with greater disappointment that we have instead decided to not schedule a new date and instead cancel for 2022.
“This is sad not only for the committee, regular sponsors and guests, but for ac.care, which relied on the fundraising to support the organisation’s local services to individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness.”
However, he said he hoped a new committee would be formed to relaunch the luncheon, potentially for a 2023 date, subject to COVID-19 restrictions easing, with major sponsors agreeing to continue their support.
“The Support Homeless People Luncheon is unique, supported by businesses and individuals for the benefit of a vital charity started in Mount Gambier,” he said.
“The event grew every two years, starting in 2012, and raising a total of $340,000 over four luncheons, with the 2018 event alone raising $125,000 in a day thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, guest speakers, ticket holders and other supporters.”
ac.care chief executive officer Shane Maddocks said the loss of the luncheon from the fundraising calendar for 2022 would impact on the agency’s capacity in supporting people impacted by homelessness.
“The luncheon has been our key fundraising event for a number of years, providing a significant boost to our finances to deliver beyond our government-funded services, build our capacity and increase the impact and diversity of our support for vulnerable people,” he said.
“This funding has allowed us to develop and trial innovative programs such as the Tenancy Education (TED) program, which has supported many people to successfully apply for and maintain private rental housing.”
Mr Maddocks said the luncheon proceeds also helped fund a specialist worker supporting young people as they moved from out of home care to living independently.
He thanked the committee and diverse supporters of the luncheon and expressed hope the event would return in future.
Meanwhile, Mr Maddocks urged anyone interested in supporting the organisation to contact ac.care or donate to become a one-off or ongoing online donor.
“Our mission is to ensure country people have safe homes, enough money to live on and strong, positive relationships,” Mr Maddocks said.
“Sadly, country people need our support more than ever due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the housing availability crisis in regional areas putting home affordability and security out of reach of an increasing number of vulnerable people.
“Support from the community, including contributors to significant fundraisers like the luncheon, really boost our capacity to increase our impact for regional South Australians, help people overcome crises and build hope for a better future.”
Luncheon ticketholders will be contacted by the committee and offered refunds.
Learn more the Support Homeless People Luncheon and how it has made a difference by following this link.