It’s all about helping people: DARA at Islington Carols

The DARA Van was open for business at Islington Carols last Sunday, selling burgers in support of those in our community suffering from distress, alienation and helplessness as a result of social disadvantage.

Formerly known as the Community Care Van, the DARA Van has been operating out of Islington Park every Saturday for several years now.

“It’s all about helping and supporting people,” John Sandy, former refugee and Project Liaison Officer for DARA, said of the service. “For me, because of my experience as a refugee… I am so passionate about giving back to the community.”

Some 300 burgers were sold on Sunday thanks to the help of DARA’s generous team of volunteers. “A lot of people have come along to support DARA, so I’m here to see that I really support them to get the job done,” John said of their support.

“They’re great burgers and a wonderful group of people doing a really great thing,” one customer said of the service.

Also present at the event was DARA partner Orange Sky Australia, an initiative set up by Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett [2016 Young Australians of the Year] to improve hygiene standards for the homeless by offering a free washing and drying service.

For those involved, DARA holds meaning in a number of different ways. For John, DARA means friendship. “When I came to Australia, it was very difficult for me to make friends. [DARA] helped me to learn a lot about Australian life and [its] culture,” he said.

DARA is always looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in assisting with the DARA Van, please visit DARA’s website for more information, or contact DARA at 02 4979 1142.

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Alexander Foster Image
Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is the Digital Communications Officer in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle