Welcome to the December edition of Building Better Lives Together. It has been an extraordinary year full of challenges, uncertainty and loss for all Australians, as we’ve weathered the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic together.

With the thousands of job losses, business closures and the social isolation we have experienced, it’s going to be a long road to recovery as we emerge from this devastating health crisis.

As Christmas approaches, it’s time for us to start the process of rebuilding and restoring hope in affected communities.

We know that it is the most disadvantaged that always carry the heaviest burden in any crisis ... and more children and families already doing it tough will be facing the very real risk of falling into deep hardship as the long-term impacts of this crisis continue to unfold.

This Christmas, money raised will go towards our programs supporting children and families to find training and employment pathways; connect with their local communities; and access early learning services for children facing hardship to get better prepared for school.

In this edition, you will read some heart-warming and inspiring stories about some of our program participants that have made positive changes in their lives during such uncertain times.

You will read Kerima’s story. A mother of two young children, new to Australia, she has gone from having no employment or support network – and through the help of our training and employment services – to stability for herself and her family.

Also featured is John, who through experiencing severe anxiety and loneliness throughout the year, took advantage of BSL’s Aged Cared Outreach Program, that targeted social isolation during the COVID-19 shutdowns.

The announcement of our new Energy Assistance Program is also profiled in this edition. This program provides a range of services, including support for low-income households to reduce their energy bills, and the financial burden on vulnerable Victorians.

Finally, we have shared an inspiring story of two ANZ staff members that demonstrated their passion by advocating for ‘employment with social impact’ through our partnership program Given the Chance.

As we look to the year ahead, our focus at BSL will be working with those people in our community that are facing severe hardship and disadvantage to ensure they have the same opportunities as everyone and the resources and tools to empower them to rebuild their lives.

Now is the time to come together as a community to ensure no child or family is left behind as we begin the journey of recovery.

I want to thank you for your continued support throughout such a difficult year. Without the compassion and commitment of people like you, our work wouldn’t be possible.

I wish you all a healthy and happy Christmas with your loved ones.

Conny Lenneberg
Executive Director, Brotherhood of St. Laurence