This one’s from the heart

A collaboration between the diocesan Development and Relief Agency (DARA), Soul Café, and Collective Heart initiative resulted in the making of a tasty meal for families the agency supports including asylum seekers, refugees and those struggling to provide food for their families due to COVID-19 job losses.

Collective Heart describes itself as a network of people striving to make their life as enriched as possible and sharing that enrichment with those not as fortunate. Founder of Collective Heart, Matt Linnert, says the group has been looking for a way to support and get to know people from Newcastle’s refugee community.

It was able to connect with DARA and over the past couple of months the Collective Heart leadership team has contributed $1,500, plus 30 soccer boots and soccer accessories to DARA’s refugee young people and their families.

On 6 June, the two organisations met at Soul Café to cook a delicious Syrian meal for families supported by DARA.

A group of six women and two teenagers gathered to cook the meal, a Syrian turmeric rice dish. The meal was then delivered to families throughout Newcastle.

Aicha Sido, a Syrian refugee and Year 6 student at Corpus Christi Primary School, Waratah, helped to cook the meal with her mum.

“I came here because I wanted to help people,” she says. “Not just for myself, but for everyone else. It makes me really happy to be connected with other people from different countries.”

The aim of the day was not just to provide food, but also to build new friendships with the Collective Heart members and DARA families, to create belonging and connection.

Mr Linnert says it is the relationship-building that makes the difference. “We wanted to spend time together,” he says. “You can hand out money, you can hand around food, but what we found at Collective Heart is it’s really special when that happens in association with relationship and friendship.”

Sue Prosser from Soul Café also enjoyed the opportunity to connect. “It’s great when we all work together,” she says. “One group can’t do everything.” Soul Café gives out food every day to vulnerable people in Newcastle, and is looking forward to its regular services starting again once COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Project liaison officer, DARA Refugee Hub John Sandy says the day was successful as it also provided opportunities for members to share skills, strengths and learn about other cultures. “As a result, a lot of opportunities have come up for the DARA refugee women as well,” he says. Mr Sandy is looking forward to more collaborations in the future.

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Brooke Robinson Image
Brooke Robinson

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