FareShare meals nourish people struggling for a bed for the night

A friendly centre behind a Fitzroy church hands out FareShare meals to the growing numbers of people trying to keep a roof over their heads.

St Marks Community Centre, operated by Anglicare Victoria, sees the impact of unaffordable rent and food prices on the local community every day.

“People say I’ve got nowhere to live. I’m sleeping in my car or in a tent,” said homeless support Team Leader Wayne Gleeson. “It’s terrible! 

“We’re seeing an increase in people because of the cost-of-living crisis. Everything’s gone up except Centrelink which hasn’t changed since 1992. It just hasn’t kept up.” 

The centre used to cook meals in its own kitchen with its own volunteers, but they never returned after COVID. “We had to find a new way to provide lunches,” said Wayne, who reached out to FareShare for urgent support.

“We tried a few FareShare meals ourselves and we absolutely love them! They look like normal, ready-made meals.”

Wayne says homeless services are being overwhelmed. St Marks prioritises helping people who are sleeping rough, in a car, squat, tent or temporary hotel. His team also supports people in crisis accommodation or who are couch-surfing.

“There’s only so much we can do,” says Wayne. “We wouldn’t have enough to give people without FareShare.” 

St Marks Community Centre homeless support team leader Wayne Gleeson with FareShare chef Dean Steininger.

“There’s only so much we can do. We wouldn’t have enough to give people without FareShare.”

The centre’s kitchen is now abandoned but the freezers are full of FareShare’s ready-to-eat meals. Wayne says even if new volunteers could be found to cook, he’d be concerned about staff filling the inevitable gaps. 

“When we didn’t have enough volunteers, staff would have to help, and we’d have social workers in the kitchen. I would rather have them helping people get housed.” 

In addition to providing food relief, the centre offers a range of other services including showers, laundry facilities, lockers for people living on the street, a free clothes rack, phone line and a mail holding facility. Staff hand out food for pets which many rough sleepers rely on for company. The centre also offers special opening hours for women who may be experiencing trauma. 

Please donate here to help FareShare keep supplying St Marks and other frontline charities with the free, nutritious meals they need for their communities.

And if you require help or wish to pay St Marks Community Centre a visit, head to their website for more details. 

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