Answering the call for help

The Community Van which provides meals and social interaction with the homeless each Saturday afternoon at Islington Park has been off the road for repairs. As an interim measure the refugee services van has been used to transport the food items provide by OzHarvest to these clients.

The usual barbecue which is a feature of the service provided by the Community Van is not available in this transition period, so the food is limited to that which OzHarvest supplies.

Last Friday after OzHarvest had delivered their food supply, John Sandy, the current co-ordinator of the Community Van, rang me to advise that OzHarvest only supplied fruit and biscuits and some fresh meat, compared with the previous weekend when the supply included sandwiches.

John asked if there was anything we could do to provide additional food as many would be hungry and we wouldn’t be able to help them.

On Saturday morning I rang a number of contacts, hoping to find a business making sandwiches for a particular market and able to assist.

One of my calls, simply to find a reference for such assistance, was to Carolyn Scott of the Blackbird Artisan Bakery and Café at Maitland Gaol.

When Carolyn heard the reason for the call she immediately said that she could provide the sandwiches to help us out.

With around two hours’ notice she and her staff (one work experience and one full timer) prepared 111 sandwiches with a range of nutritious fillings, individually wrapped them and then arranged for her daughter to deliver them to Hexham where John met her to collect the trays of food.  He then drove to the park and shared them with the hungry clients who huddled under the trees looking for shelter from the very heavy rain on Saturday afternoon.

The clients loved the sandwiches and commented on how fresh and tasty they were. They were very appreciative, as we were, for her very willing assistance to answer our call for help.

Carolyn sought no publicity for this action but we think it is worth providing the details for the café should readers be in the Maitland area and want to enjoy a tasty meal or coffee break or purchase some lovely handmade sourdough bread which is proving very popular.

Blackbird Artisan Bakery and Café
6-18 John St, East Maitland
(02) 4934 5238

The Community Van operates at Islington Park on each Saturday afternoon from 3.30pm supplying food packs, a barbecue, tea/coffee and an opportunity for socialising. The service relies on volunteers to enable it to maximise its effectiveness and is a major outreach for teachers and students from St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton.

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Barry Urwin Image
Barry Urwin

Barry is the Manager of Business and Community Engagement for the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese.

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