It’s 7.43am in the Melbourne CBD, on a frosty July morning. After sleeping the night in a rowdy backpackers, a woman is hungry, but with no money for breakfast. Barefoot, she makes her way to St Peter’s Eastern Hill Parish where she will find breakfast, run by the Lazarus Centre breakfast program, which is supported by St Mark’s Community Centre.
Up to 80 homeless men and women visit the Parish for a nutritional breakfast every day of the week- they also provide lunch every Friday. Over 23,000 people in Victoria are currently homeless; 39% are young people under the age of 25 years. The service is meeting a growing need.
During breakfast sessions, immediate practical support is also on offer, including clothing, bedding and swags. External professionals also attend these sessions and offer their services, as well as relevant referrals. This program heavily relies on volunteer support, and the food and clothing is mostly donated by generous Parishes and schools.
More than just tangible support, those coming in the door will receive kindness and a human connection. Anglicare Victoria staff pride themselves on welcoming everyone with humility, a cup of tea and a friendly chat, which can be worth its weight in gold.
St Marks Community Centre in Fitzroy is also up the road if needed. This centre is open five days a week from 10:30am until 2.30pm, and provides a hot healthy lunch, food parcels, essential hygiene products, toiletries, blankets, clothing, a shower, clothes washing facilities and recreational activities.
St Mark’s Community Centre staff and volunteers also check on visitors, and can refer them to other support services facilitated by Anglicare Victoria when required. For those needing more complex support, primary care, emergency relief, community support, including advocacy, referrals are also available.