Every year 6000 people turn to the Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre for help.
The Federal Government recently axed all their funding, forcing the centre to turn to the local community for support so they can continue to meet the needs of locals doing it tough.
Centre co-ordinator Emily Messieh says the centre services the area from North Wollongong to Helensburgh, with demand expected to increase following redundancies at local coal mines.
“More ‘average’ people are suffering,” says Emily.
She says the Northern Illawarra has been extremely generous in their support of the Neighbourhood Centre, with regular donations of food and hygiene items. Using these donations they’ve set up a Community Pantry to provide emergency food supplies. Emily says this is well-supported with many families choosing to make regular donations.
However the Neighbourhood Centre also need cash to help those less fortunate.
“We ofter emergency assistance packs, but we also need to help people with their utility bills if they’re in dire straights. I had a man come in last week who desperately needed a SIM so he could be contacted about work. We needed to give him money for that, which we just didn’t have, so he had to wait until next pay-day and therefore missed out on much-needed income.
“Often mothers need specific items for their babies, however we can only donate what has been donated, so we need to build up a funds pool, then we can offer vouchers.”
In order to raise this cash, a High Tea has been organised at the Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre on October 31.
“Our mission statement is to exist to enhance community connectedness and wellbeing,” says Emily. “We see this event as checking all the boxes. It gives the community a chance to get together and connect over coffee and music. It also gives local musicians, and some of our clients, the opportunity to perform so we can showcase local talent, and it raises money to help us help others.”
The event is the brainchild of Scarborough doctors Miriam Kapel and Stephen Zafiriou.
Dr Kapel is a GP at Headspace Wollongong and Dr Zafiriou is a renal physician at Wollongong Hospital.
She says the funding cuts cause the pair concern, so they decided to take action. “In my younger years I needed the support of an organisation like the Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre, so I have an understanding of the level of need within our community. I also see that need every day in my work at Headspace.
“We will create a beautiful afternoon where people can share their musical gifts, enjoy great food, coffee and tea and help make a difference in the lives of others by raising funds for the centre.
The High Tea will be held on October 31 from 2pm. Tickets are $20 at the door, with pensioners/ concession tickets $10 and family tickets (2 adults- 2 children)
Donations of non-perishable foods and hygiene items are always welcome and can be dropped off at the centre on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am-6pm.
Cash donations can be made via HERE