Heather has been coming to UnitingCare Bendigo Kangaroo Flat Emergency Relief for many years. She comes for the community, a cup-of-tea, a chat and sometimes a loaf of bread.
“There’s so many people that they help here with food, anyone can always come and get a loaf of bread and more than that it’s a gathering of people that might otherwise be by themselves.”
Heather used to work full-time but after a chronic illness changed her life, she can’t support herselffinancially anymore. Chronic pain and restricted mobility have not stopped Heather’s zest for life and willingness to stay connected to her community. She now volunteers in reception and administration for Women’s Health Bendigo.
“The more you give the more you get back. I don’t do it for any reason but there’s so much positive to get out of volunteering.”
Heather is just one of many clients that make up the Bendigo UnitingCare community. Our Emergency Relief services are currently experiencing an inundation of clients looking for food, advice and community. On any given day Kangaroo Flat and Forest St Emergency Relief can assist up to 100 people across the two sites. Sometimes keeping the shelves stocked and the fridges full is a great stress on the many volunteers that make our services possible.
“They really help so many people in so many ways. People come in for a simple thing and soon see it’s so much more. They can sit down and talk, open up and feel part of the community,” says Heather.
We are always finding new ways to reach out to clients and build community. We are looking for support to host regular community lunches at our Forest St Emergency Relief. Community Lunches will enable us to provide a safe social space, a healthy meal and better engagement to those people who need to talk, or would benefit from referral to other services within the community. We are applying for a small community grant to get things started but we will need everyone’s support to make it happen.
If you think you can help by making a donation, partnering with us or volunteering, please get in touch.
A family of five comprising Mum and four daughters came to us for help to see if we could assist with food, clothing, medical expenses (scripts) and accommodation. We referred them to a local specialist housing organization regarding the housing and after assessing their situation provided them with their immediate needs, food, scripts and clothing.
One of the children aged sixteen at the time was very withdrawn and would not get out of the car. It transpired she had not attended school for a long period of time, and had been teased and bullied and become rebellious. It took several visits from the family before the girl came into the building.
We were able to build trust with the family over a few visits as we helped them budget their finances and assisted with food. We were able to assist the girl enroll in a school and helped her find a part time job with a local animal welfare agency, as she loves dogs.
On one visit she revealed to us that her pet dog had died and because they were not in permanent housing they had buried the dog in a large plant pot which was on the veranda. This was upsetting to them all. Our suggestion and support in finding a nice place in some local woodland in which the plant pot could be buried was appreciated by the family as it gave the family a lot of comfort. They now have permanent accommodation and things are much more positive for them. They also have a new dog as part of the family.
“Carl” had been forced to give up his job when he found himself as a single father, caring for his 2 young children. The night shifts just didn’t work in with his responsibilities. When he entered into a new relationship, his new partner was willing to care for the children and his former employer happy to have him back. However, the business was Melbourne-based and Carl had to travel to Melbourne for an interview before this could happen and couldn’t afford the trip. We were pleased to be able to provide him with petrol to go to the interview, as it enabled Carl and his family to achieve financial independence once more.
“Mandy” was desperately in need of assistance because her child support money had not been paid into her account. She and her 3 children had been on their own for some months, since the parents’ relationship broke down. Coping alone with a young family is difficult. When the money for food runs out because you’ve had to make sure the rent and the power bill have been paid, you have little choice but to turn to a welfare agency for help
“Phil” comes from a country town. He is currently undergoing cancer treatment in Bendigo but is unable to make the trip backwards and forwards every day. He has been obliged to stay in a motel during this time, which is very expensive, especially as he has to pay more at weekends and busy times when there is a heavier demand locally for accommodation. The motel has no cooking facilities, so meals are an added expense. After a few weeks of this drain on his finances, Phil had to come to us for help. We were able to provide him with some meal basics that could be used in his situation, but the added financial stress is making it more difficult for him to cope with the worry of his illness and treatment.