As part of my internship at United way WA I was fortunate enough to be involved in an ongoing initiative with HOPE and United Way. This is a monthly luncheon for those in the community who are disadvantaged in some way whether that be sleeping rough, financial instability, isolation or other social or economical barriers. Together with volunteers from Bank West who are ongoing supporters of this initiative, we prepared a luncheon for about 80 clients at the HOPE building.
It was really interesting to see how this monthly event differs from other services in the area that focus mainly on the provision of food. This initiative seems to fill a gap in existing services by providing more than just a meal. Firstly, the event is run inside at tables and chairs which brings the community in out of the weather and offers them a sense of respect and dignity by welcoming them into a space. Secondly, a large focus of this event is the interaction of not only the clients amongst themselves but with those volunteering. A sense of bringing down walls and barriers is present as we all sat together and shared the same meals on our disposable plates. Conversation was mainly open and welcoming by all the clients, and so many were forthcoming with appreciation and “Thank You’s”.
So many different people walked through the doors, it was on one side beautiful and heart warming whilst on the other side at times confronting and humbling. There were young and old, people on their own, families, social groups, all from a range of cultural backgrounds.
The peas and carrots I was serving were not exactly the highlight, but the apple crumble I had assisted in making was a hit! I loved the idea that they were presented with a complete meal through to desert, plus the opportunity to come up for seconds, thirds and fourths. Leftover food was then offered for clients to take away with them, which was received with great appreciation. Most enjoyed the conversation and social aspect of the event, though a small few chose to sit on the perimeter of the tables alone. However, it felt as though the general sense of social interaction and being a part of a bigger community was not lost on them and they enjoyed being a part of this from a distance.
I really look forward to doing more of these events with United Way and hope that I get a chance to talk more to the clients in the future.
Emma is an intern at United Way WA