A place to call home
Every week more than 120 local people access the services provided by the Redwood Community Centre – and this is just one of many services supporting people in need in our region.
‘Homelessness takes many forms and does not discriminate,’ says Mark, a worker from Salvo Care – East. ‘I would estimate there are 50-60 people in Warburton who are sleeping rough, living in cars, or couch surfing at the moment. Many people in the community are surprised when they hear this figure but it is a real life issue for many individuals.’
Organisations such as Redwood Community Centre offer support across a range of areas including fresh and packaged food distribution (Second Bite and Food Bank), food parcels, clothing, blankets, meals, accommodation referrals and crisis support, and other assistance.
‘Anyone can come into the centre on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday and we can connect them with what they need. There is no need for anyone in Warburton to go hungry, be cold or have nowhere to sleep,’ says Kate Barratt, the Redwood Centre manager.
‘And we’re also focused on creating meaningful ways to engage people, especially those who are socially isolated, and provide opportunities for skill development. The kitchen redevelopment project that has just received sponsorship funding will enable us to provide weekly classes to teach cooking skills and also encourage social interaction.’
Demand for services has increased significantly in the past twelve months and this places escalating demand on service providers and their volunteers. Funding from sources such as the Warburton and Yarra Junction Community Banks® supports larger projects but also the day-to-day running costs.
There is a large network of services through the valley – Food Bank and LINC in Yarra Junction also provide non-perishable and perishable food distribution, and initiatives such as Thursday night’s ‘pay by donation‘ meals at Koha Community Café, and Mondays at Warburton Community Space are part of an offering that gives people ready access to nutritious quality foods.
Feeling a sense of belonging in a community is important and our townships, with their strong sense of place, can ask what else can be done and who might need extra support. ‘Policy changes have many flow-on effects and have recently put further pressure on those that were already ‘only just making it,’ says Mark. ‘Most people can relate to that feeling.’
Redwood is located at 3505 Warburton Highway, Warburton.
Call 5966 2320 or visit their website www.redwoodcentre.org.au