Lisa and Craig provide a warm welcome with FareShare meals

Ballarat winters are notoriously harsh. It’s hard to imagine how anyone sleeping rough could even survive.

Centacare’s Peplow House provides temporary relief with crisis accommodation for single men experiencing homelessness. Residents are provided intensive support to address a broad range of issues using a holistic approach and ongoing outreach to help rebuild shattered lives.

“Most men arrive here when they’ve hit rock bottom,” explains Lisa, Senior Key Worker. “They’ve had enough and want to make a change.”

Moving from the streets into a community house can be a huge shock. All residents must sign an agreement to abide by the house rules and engage in the services provided. The availability of quality food is a welcome surprise.

The communal freezer is full of FareShare meals with casseroles the first to go. Some of those doing it tough have existed on little more than toast. Nutritious meals offer an immediate boost to health and wellbeing.

As well as sharing FareShare meals with residents, Lisa and her co-worker Craig also deliver them to vulnerable people through Centacare’s outreach program.

“They absolutely count on it,” says Lisa. “They love the meals. For some it means they can eat. When you’re on the streets it’s all about survival. People heat up FareShare meals on a little burner – same with the sausage rolls. You don’t need cutlery.”

Peplow House has just eight rooms and demand for shelter far exceeds supply in a catchment that that stretches from Stawell to Bacchus Marsh. Numbers experiencing homelessness have swelled with many of those sleeping rough living transient lives.

Peplow House provides a comfortable home for residents. A new suite purchased by a donation from Michelle Payne after her Melbourne Cup win and cartoons drawn by a talented ex-resident provide warmth. So too does the humanity and commitment of  Peplow staff.

“We laugh a lot,” says Craig.

The situation is confronting. Seeing how FareShare meals help Lisa, Craig and their Centacare colleagues make a difference is a humbling affirmation of our mission.