TWO major foundations, nib and Newcastle Permanent Charitable, have teamed up to provide $100,000 in funding to support farmers and local communities impacted by the ongoing drought in the region.
And, Upper Hunter Community Services (UHCS) will receive the subsidy over a two-year period it was announced at Newcastle Civic Park on Wednesday.
The organisation has a strong focus to offer a range of practical services and support to people in the area.
UHCS manager Mel Atkinson said the need to assist families in the Upper Hunter continued to grow as the drought maintained its grip on everyone.
"Farmers and agricultural sector workers and their families are stoic," she explained.
"But, the physical, mental and financial repercussions that come with protracted drought can really take a toll on the community.
"The funding will help to lift a bit of weight off their shoulders by allowing them to meet some of their immediate needs while also giving us an opportunity to start a conversation with them about managing their health and wellbeing."
nib foundation chairman Judi Geggie said drought-affected people, both on farm and in the wider local community, would be able to access support services, financial support and engage in local community building activities during what can only be described as an extremely tough period.
"The drought continues to challenge our local farmers and regional communities putting incredible stress on not only their finances but also their health and wellbeing," she added.
"That's why it's important that support is offered at both a holistic and practical level, such as helping them meet their everyday needs like paying bills or putting food on the table, while also ensuring they maintain important social connections."
The funding will be used to directly alleviate the financial burden on drought-affected families and also deliver a series of community events to foster connection, build resilience and provide pathways for referral to available support services.
Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation chair Phil Neat said the money was designed for both immediate impact as well as long-term support.
"The current drought has no expiry date," he stated.
"And, even when it does break, the damage to farms, local employment and regional economies will take years to repair.
"Our support will not only help tackle the current financial pressures these communities are facing but also unite the community for the long road ahead."
It's the first time the two leading Hunter charitable foundations have come together to support a common cause, recognising that co-operative initiatives are required to deliver the level of scale necessary to address the significant social issues caused by this drought.
"Our two foundations share a strong Hunter bond and commitment to support people doing it tough in our own backyard, so joining forces to leverage our resources for collective impact was an easy decision by our respective Boards," Ms Geggie said.
"We want the Hunter community to know that we recognise the extraordinary hardship this drought continues to cause and right now is more important than ever to rally together to support farmers and drought-affected families," Mr Neat added.
To find out how UHCS can help you or someone you know, phone 6542 3555.