Tamworth's domestic and family violence and mental health stretched services to breaking point over the holidays. Often the reality for too many over the Christmas season, those issues were compounded by COVID-19.
Tamworth Family Support Services saw a 25 per cent increase in people needing their help with violence compared to last year.
"You can say we were prepared to be busier this year, I mean it's always busy," service manager Lynda Townsend explained.
"But what we weren't prepared for was how much of an increase there was."
Cuts to JobSeeker payments meant increasing need for rental and housing assistance.
"Cuts created another layer of housing affordability stress, on the back end of the Christmas period when families always continue to struggle. It highlights the need for a review of the welfare payment system to meet the housing affordability market," Ms Townsend said.
Restriction and border changes meant the stability hoped for in the new year was well and truly compromised.
"People are still feeling on edge, there is a level of uncertainty with the borders open and shut, open and shut," Josie Hofman said, Centacare's principal psychologist and executive manager.
"It has had a significant impact on mental health, as it has impacted on people's ability to see loved ones, and their ability for annual leave self-care."
People were feeling more optimistic as the restrictions alleviated, but she said more recently, uncertainty has been reported from clients and within organisations Centacare works with.
"Domestic and family violence and homelessness continue to be a focus for funding bodies and government agencies, but on the back of COVID and the uncertainty, we are still not sure what's going to happen," Ms Townsend noted.
Ms Hofman wants two things for 2021: that the government continues funding for those affected by COVID-19, continuing and expanding services to meet the increasing demand.
"And secondly - that we continue to encourage and support each other as a community and talk openly about the impacts of COVID and unite, support each other, make efforts with family, friends and workplace contacts."
For family and domestic violence or housing help, free call TFSS on 1800 073 388.