A GUNNEDAH business manager says people doing it tough “need to start putting their hands up” for help, as drought bites harder.
Chaffeys Mower Clinic manager Tom Paddison said it was evident the big dry was having a growing impact on more people and businesses.
And while that included himself and his staff, he was also concerned for people on the land who might be too proud to ask for assistance.
Chaffeys is a collection point for the Doing it for our Farmers drive, in which people can donate items such as toiletries, cleaning products and non-perishable food.
Mr Paddison said the number of donations had “dropped off a little bit since the start” as the drought was “starting to affect the everyday person”.
“Certainly we have had people just going shopping and literally the entire shop is being brought in here and donated, which is fantastic.”
But Mr Paddison said customers and friends were just as likely to drop into the shop simply to chat.
“People come in and have a yak, talk about how hard it is – but getting them to go ‘I need help’ is just another step, because obviously farmers are quite proud,” he said.
Doing it for our Farmers founder Sue-Ellen Wilkin said volunteers were doing “cold drops” of their care packages – simply leaving them in the mailboxes of drought-affected properties – for just that reason.
“I was advised by someone in the DPI to do that … We’d decided to do it anyway and she just validated it,” Mrs Wilkin said.
“I know how proud these guys are; not too many of them will ask for help.
“We’re not going to save the world with what we’re giving them, but we hope to just let them know they’re not alone.”
Mr Paddison said he knew of people who’d had their phones disconnected because they’d been unable to pay the bill.
He’d also seen how empty courier vans were; “they would usually be packed” with business stock orders.
“I normally put in a fairly large order every week, but now I’m being fairly choosy,” he said.
“If we don’t get rain soon, it’s going to have a huge impact on not just my business but a lot of other small businesses in town – and I’m not sure what the follow-on effect of that is going to be like.
“Not to be a drama queen about it, but it certainly plays on my mind.
“I’ve had to wind back the hours of my staff so I’m not paying them as much; I’m not paying myself.
“I’m having to wind back my expenses so I can keep the doors open.”
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