The rising cost of living is driving more and more families to the brink of poverty and putting a strain on support services.

That’s the word from the St Vincent de Paul Society, which recorded a 68 per cent increase in financial welfare support delivered to the western suburbs in the past three years.

Vinnies joined forces with other leading Victorian welfare groups and charities last week as part of Anti-Poverty Week to highlight the extent of poverty across the state and to lobby state and federal governments to address the structural inequalities that drive poverty.

Victorian Vinnies chief executive Sue Cattermole said the numbers spoke for themselves in terms of how large the gap between home budgets and the cost of living had grown – a gap that she says is increasingly being filled by charities.

“[It] is an alarming trend and a sign that communities and policy makers need to work together to create sustainable models of support for delivering the very basic things people need to survive – food, school fees, transport, clothing, furniture, and more,” she said.

“Our immediate goal is always to provide the basics that keep children in school, food on the table, utilities switched on and rent paid to ultimately ensure that individuals and families keep a roof over their head.

“There has to be an acknowledgement that the cost of living is simply too high for people living on the lowest levels of incomes … there is a desperate need to review how they are adequately supported at a state and federal level.”

The Vinnies shop in Hoppers Crossing hosted morning tea and meet-and-greet with volunteers to give community members an opportunity to learn more about the charity’s welfare work on the frontline.