Breezeway – Meals Program
Your donations at work (mid-year update 2015)
A mother and her adult son attend Breezeway three to four times per week. They have been recently housed but prior to that they had been homeless or transient for over two years. The son is in his twenties and he has Tourette’s syndrome and Aspergers. The mother informs me that her son’s disabilities have impacted on their ability to maintain housing, as he is very talkative and has a tendency to upset people by asking too many questions and imposing his views very loudly on others. This has resulted in a lot of isolation for them both.
Breezeway has many different people with many varying personal stories. Therefore the ability of the majority of diners to accept differences kindly is very marked. The young man’s behaviour is not only tolerated but is accepted and understood, with many diners going out of their way to chat to him. The mother has informed me that she enjoys coming to Breezeway as it is a small break in her day where she can relax and feel nurtured, as she said the larger community does not accept her son’s behaviour and that leaves her quite isolated as her son cannot manage independently without her care. July 2015
The homeless, those with mental health issues and people in crisis can access a substantial and nutritional midday meal every day of the year in a warm and safe environment.
Every day of the year, a team of dedicated local volunteers provide a light morning tea and a nutritious midday meal for people who are homeless and marginalised within the Ballarat Community. The meals are served in a coffee shop style area, in an old breezeway between two buildings.
A lot of thought goes into the meals which are as nutritious and un-processed as possible in order to have the maximum impact on the health of the people who attend. A light take away meal is also available for people to take for the evening.
The community is generous with donations of quality food and St John of God Hospital Ballarat provide Sunday’s roast each week along with two volunteer staff members to aid in preparation and serving.
Volunteers are not hard to get or retain in this program; the band of very joyful people in the kitchen busily preparing meals obviously enjoy what they do. Apparently Christmas day sees volunteers registering to work that day as early as February.
Last year 30,000 meals were served by the team of close knit volunteers many of whom have been doing this for nearly the entire 15 years of operation. Their aim is to always treat people with dignity and are adamant in stressing this is not a ‘soup kitchen’ it is a cafe providing food and social community to those who most need it with referral to other services available.
The funding we provide for this program is generated from Workplace Giving programs.
This organisation has received funding from United Way Ballarat every year since our inception in 1983.
Your donations at work (mid year update 2014 )
Breezeway serves meals on average to 60 people per day with the support of 50 volunteers who attend on a rostered basis . The goal of breezeway is also to inform their client group about services available to them and to improve their knowledge of how to access such things as housing, alcohol and or other drugs counselling, gambling help and information that promotes better health outcomes.
“Most of the people dining at Breezeway would have amazing stories to tell of why, when and how, they came to need a meals program. However the details are not always ours to know.
But over time we do get to see and hear a great deal. Some are not all rags to riches stories but are more about long, slow improvements in general health and confidence. Like the fellow who comes often but rarely speaks, he always eats while standing up and with his back to the wall. My observations tell me that he suffers from a serious mental health issue; his sense of vulnerability and isolation acutely obvious as he anxiously scans the room and it is a good day when a quiet greeting of “hello” is met with a response of a “hello” back. One day he was joined by another man who was unfamiliar in the dining room. Both men acknowledged each other briefly and seemed comfortable eating and standing together. Now that was a very good day for our regular fellow. Who knows? May-be one day he will feel safe enough to sit at the table and eat his meal with several others. Those who suffer from a mental illness can take many years to change one small behaviour or fear. In the mean time we welcome him with our home cooked meals and we look out for his possible needs, while remaining sensitive to his need to eat and leave quickly.” July 2014