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Youth serve up some kerbside care

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An increasing demand for meal services for the homeless in Adelaide’s CBD is being met by a group of committed young people working for Fred’s Van.

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Every Monday night they serve hot meals provided by Vinnies through Fred’s Van in Gawler Place.

Last year saw a 25 per cent increase in the number of meals served by Fred’s Van compared to 2015, with the biggest increase experienced by the city service.

Fred’s Van coordinator Teresa Branch said it wasn’t unusual to see young volunteers at the 10 Fred’s Van sites around the State but the Monday night service in the city was the only one operated solely by youth teams.

Vinnies Fred’s Van operates five nights a week in the city, with the Monday food service commencing early last year after Vinnies took it over from the Salvos, providing an opportunity for younger volunteers (aged between 18 and 35) to step in and help.

“It’s been a resounding success and we currently have 40 young volunteers who work on the Monday teams,” said Ms Branch.

“Being in the city there can be many issues and being a volunteer here is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but they have risen to the challenge and are committed volunteer teams.”

Ms Branch added that besides their commitment to making a difference to other people’s lives, team members also benefited from the leadership skills they learned as part of their volunteering efforts.

Students from the Wiltja Secondary School, a residential school for Indigenous students from SA, WA NT and Qld, have also become involved in the service as part of their curriculum’s volunteer requirements.

Other ‘special guests’ at the Fred’s Van services this winter have included members of the Adelaide Crows squad – including stars Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron – who have helped serve meals at the Kilburn and city sites.

With still one month of the busy winter season to go, Fred’s Van is well on track to match the more than 39,000 meals served in 2016. Last year saw a 25 per cent increase in the number of meals served compared to 2015, although Ms Branch said this had been partially due to increasing the city service from four to five nights.

Figures from last year show the locations with the biggest increase in demand were the city (19,103 meals in 2016; 13,486 in 2015), Christies Beach (4122; 3273), Port Pirie (2085; 1281), Aldinga (2084; 1487) and Elizabeth (1719; 921).

Ms Branch said while Fred’s Van had its origins as an outdoor mobile venue providing meals, at most locations (except the city and Gawler) the service was now operating indoors.

“We prefer indoors as it offers comfort, particularly in winter, but also it enables people to sit down and have a chat – that social interaction that is often missing from many people’s lives.”

Meals offered by the van include soup, sausages, lasagne, pasta dishes, pizza, curries, sandwiches, fruit and donated treats.

 

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