Fair wind blows with gratitude

The diocesan Development and Relief Agency (DARA) recently received a generous donation from the Newcastle branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

The MUA collected $16,500 for three local organisations “to do their bit to look after people who are doing it tough after losing their jobs or homes”, said MUA branch secretary Glen Williams.
“Despite facing economic uncertainty themselves, local maritime workers have dug deep to provide what assistance they can to help those less fortunate get through this terrible time,” Mr Williams said.

“We partnered with three local organisations with a long history of helping those most in need, providing direct financial support for more than a dozen families facing extreme hardship and providing funding for food hampers and meals for people experiencing homelessness in the Newcastle area.”

Eastlakes Financial Services received $8500, Newcastle's Soul Cafe $5000 and DARA received $3000.

The donation to DARA was gratefully received, as COVID-19 restrictions have forced its community kitchens in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens to close temporarily. In place of the kitchens, meals are being delivered to clients, and demand is higher than ever.

“The DARA food program has been able to quickly reconfigure its service delivery to ensure that meals are provided to people during the current pandemic isolation requirements,” said strategic engagement manager for CatholicCare, Robert Dawson.

“The donation made by the MUA will greatly assist the program and its committed volunteers to create and deliver much-needed meals to those in the community who require it.”

In fact, the donation will provide an extra 1000 meals to those in need, said DARA food programs co-ordinator, Baden Ellis.

Mr Ellis said many of the people who usually came for meals from the DARA van at Islington Park were sleeping rough or homeless, which made it hard for DARA to find them to deliver meals now that the van was out of action for the time being.

"I'm in contact with about half of them, with about 25 who have fixed addresses and we travel around looking for another 10 to 15 who would otherwise come to us," Mr Ellis said.

He said the service was now busier than ever as "many of the people we are helping are not the typical clients of the van or the kitchens".

"They may have found themselves out of work or on JobKeeper and what they are getting is not enough to meet the sorts of costs that a typical family has to meet," Mr Ellis said.

Anyone can register for free meal delivery at ww.dara.org.au

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Brooke Robinson Image
Brooke Robinson

Brooke is Content Officer for the Communications Team in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle