Last month Melbourne was enthralled by the Spring Racing Carnival – the festival bringing together racing delights, warming weather and brimming house sales. Added to the increasing fervour leading up to Christmas, remembering the less fortunate, particularly the 23,000 Victorians who are either homeless or in insecure accommodation, is important. This is was the message delivered at the launch of Wesley Mission Victoria’s annual Food for Families appeal last month.
Hosted by John Deeks and featuring cooking demonstrations by Masterchef alumnus and appeal ambassador Callum Hann, the breakfast marked the 22nd year of the campaign.
As articulated by special guest speaker The Right Honourable Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, vulnerable people are as much a part of Victoria as our events and celebrations. Providing them with assistance is contingent upon the collaborative work of organisations such as Wesley Mission Victoria, Foodbank and the City of Melbourne.
“It is not about us, or the organisations we work with. It is about the people we aim to serve, the people doing it tough,” Mr Doyle said.
Rob Evers, chief executive officer of Wesley Mission Victoria, reiterated this message by outlining the transformative work done by the wider
UnitingCare network. Emergency food relief is often the first step, alleviating the immediate need for food.
Financial assistance and planning for bills and basic services is usually the next step in assisting the climb out of poverty. Where necessary, the next steps involving counselling or specialised support are provided by Wesley, other agencies within the network, or external partner organisations.
Colleen’s story, who was present at the breakfast with two of her younger children, offers a great example of this transformative care made possible by the Food for Families appeal.
The food parcels and material aid made the difference between having a meal and sleeping hungry, while the transitional housing helped break the cycle of domestic violence. Coupled with fiscal planning support, it put the family on a secure footing and gave them the opportunity for emotional healing through counselling services.
The family is now together and rebuilding connections. As stated by Colleen: “Life is good, I do not know where we would be without Wesley; you cannot buy that anywhere.”
This sequential model of support means the appeal needs more than non-perishable food items. According to Mr Evers, Wesley centres received more than 17,000 appeals for assistance in the last year and distributed all of the 45 tonnes of food collected in 2012.
With increasing demand, this year’s appeal aims to collect 50 tonnes of food and 30,000 monetary donations to provide material assistance to the most vulnerable across Melbourne.
Please donate directly to Wesley Mission Victoria or leave food items in the red box at participating Woolworths and IGA supermarkets.