Soup Kitchen president Mieke Bell talks with Page MP Janelle Saffin, Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek and Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell.
Soup Kitchen president Mieke Bell talks with Page MP Janelle Saffin, Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek and Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell.

Minister drops in for cuppa

Federal Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek dropped in to the Winsome last Friday to have a look at how the facility has been adapted for use as a crisis accommodation centre and soup kitchen.

“I know this project was a long time coming because when Janelle Saffin was the candidate she talked to me about the lack of accommodation for homeless people in Lismore and made me promise that we’d allocate some funding,” Ms Plibersek said. “It’s brilliant to see it all come together and that these much-needed services can be provided that really change people’s lives and give them a chance at stability.”

Ms Plibersek said facilities like the Winsome help people get back on their feet.

“In Australia we’ve had periods of high homelessness, like the late 1920s and 1930s with the Depression, and until recently the face of homelessness was an older man probably with an alcohol dependency, but we know now there are a lot more families and children who are homeless,” she said. “One of the reasons for this is domestic violence, which is a huge factor in homelessness.

“We also know people can be going along fine and then a change in circumstances, like losing their job, can lead to them ending up on the streets. Some people just need a little bit of support, then they’re fine. At the other end of the scale there are frail and aged people who might have been living on the streets and have very poor health and you need a whole spectrum of services to cater for a great variety of need.

“It’s great to see such a good service here.”

The federal government kicked in $200,000 to help the Soup Kitchen buy the Winsome. Lismore City Council assists with ongoing running costs and the centre relies on volunteers.

President of the Lismore Soup Kitchen Mieke Bell said the 18 crisis accommodation beds were full and the Winsome was providing lunch for up to 60 people a day, as well as giving people sandwiches to take away for dinner.

“I believe the community is in support of what we’re doing here and I’m very happy the Minister had time to come and visit us,” Ms Bell said. “Housing is an issue for marginalised people – a really big one – and in our small way here at the Winsome, we’re trying to help address some of the aspects related to that.

“The accommodation here provides security and safety and gives a sense of community to our residents, it has a really good vibe.

“By locating the Soup Kitchen here we’re able to provide a nice place for people to spend their day.

“This place is tailor-made for us, as a soup kitchen, in terms of providing meals and accommodation.”


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