Anglicare’s Mobile Community Pantry helps hundreds of Illawarra residents increase their budget | Mercury of Illawarra

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, services like Anglicare’s Mobile Community Pantry are essential in helping hundreds of Illawarra residents stretch their budgets further. Evelyn Dach, 75, of Jamberoo, has been shopping at the Oak Flats Anglican Church pantry for nearly three years. She said some would likely struggle financially without the service, but also said it served other key purposes. Read more: After being left homeless, Bob took the train every night for two years “I like the people – they’re friendly,” she said on Thursday. “I arrive early to chat. I live in the bush, so I don’t see many people.” Anglicare’s Mobile Community Pantry vans provide low-cost groceries to community members in need. The Pantry is run in partnership with local churches and visits each site fortnightly. For a $10 donation, participants can fill their grocery bag. The program has been running for around three years in Oak Flats and also visits suburbs such as Shellharbour, Berkeley, West Wollongong and Corrimal. Sandra Fuke of Haywards Bay, who frequents the Oak Flats site, said the Mobile Pantry was there when she needed it. “(At one point) we were going through a bad patch,” the 77-year-old said. “I’m fine now in terms of money… But when I started coming here, things were a bit tense. “I meet a few ladies here every time. I used to go play scrabble with one every week, but it’s closed since COVID. “So that’s pretty much the only social thing left. It’s very important.” Oak Flats man Raymond Debono, 70, a retiree, said the service had “helped his household budget a lot” and the pandemic had made it even more important. “If I have to go buy this in the stores, it would probably cost me three times as much,” he said. Oak Flats Anglican Church chief minister Reverend Sam Pursell said Mobile Pantry tours in Oak Flats typically draw 30 to 40 people each time. “Anyone can come here – a good number of them are not part of our church,” he said. “People who come, it’s a place for them where they can find community, food and have someone to talk to.” The success of the program also relies on the volunteerism of church members like Coralie Pratt. Ms Pratt said they had to adapt the program to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. This has included the delivery of baskets for those unable to attend in person. “When the restrictions eased, we were able to bring them (customers) inside (again) and make morning tea safely,” she said. The Anglicare Mobile Community Pantry visits the following areas – * Corrimal Anglican – Monday 10.30am. *St Mark’s West Wollongong – Monday 4pm. *Berkeley Life Center – Tuesday 1:30 p.m. *Oak Flats Anglican – Thursday 10am. * Shellharbour City Anglican – Friday 1.30pm Each of these is fortnightly, except Berkeley which is weekly. Contact the sites for more details. A charity bringing hope Further south, the charity Homestead of Hope (a collaboration of several churches in the region) based in Kiama recently resumed its activities after a hiatus of several months imposed by the pandemic. “We expect it to increase,” President Mary Spillane said of the demand for their services. “I think it affects people. And people who normally let someone else sleep in their living room, it’s harder for them too, so it’s the ongoing effect.” The brainchild by Dianne O’Dwyer, the group formed in 2010, with a goal of supporting the poor, disadvantaged, marginalized, lonely and homeless.The group provides free cooked meals at Kiama Scout Hall on Tuesdays for all who enter and organizes mahjong on Thursdays to raise funds. They also provide ongoing support to clients in They recently supported a young mother fleeing domestic abuse. “Our long-term goal is to get housing, even if it’s of something to rent, long-term rent, so that when people like this come along we can help them,” Ms Spillane said. “If we can accommodate women like that in accommodation short term emergency…we are trying to rent our own lodge lying, so they can come, get up and move on. , where they support themselves and get their own accommodation.” Ms Spillane said there was a misconception that there were no homeless people in the Kiama area. “There are – many of them take the train, because Kiama is at the end of the line. “When people tell me there are no homeless people in Kiama, I say, ‘Well, we feed some of them.'” We really want to help people who have fallen through the cracks – these are the ones we focus on.” If you would like to join their efforts, call 0425 228 548. We depend on subscription income to support our journalism. , Thank you for your support.

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Norma P. Rex