Despite the challenging year that was 2021, Sacred Heart Mission’s (SHM) Meals Program has remained rock-steady for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage – this Christmas will be no exception.
This year, Christmas lunch will be served as a takeaway meal from Sacred Heart Central’s front courtyard at 87 Grey St in St Kilda and will include a festive atmosphere to keep everyone connected to our community after the challenges of 2020 and 2021.
Though the community is opening up again, and Melbournians are feeling a sense of normality return after so long, the vulnerable community we serve are more exposed and more at risk than ever.
Since August 2021, Sacred Heart Mission, in partnership with Star Health, has provided approximately 500 vaccinations to our client cohort. Our team has effectively worked with clients to address fears and hesitancy about vaccinations, ensuring that everyone felt safe to be vaccinated.
Total vaccination rates of this cohort, however, remain low – but through no fault of their own.
“Regardless of vaccination status, we must ensure people continue to receive food, support, and access to a vaccination,” says Sacred Heart Mission CEO Cathy Humphrey.
“There is still significant anxiety in our community, and many people are still experiencing unemployment, mortgage and rental stress and debt that has spiralled in the last two years,” Cathy says.
For many in our community, a meal from Sacred Heart Mission is their only one each day; and the significance of this is even more apparent during the Christmas period and in the wake of the pandemic.
Sacred Heart Mission has held the tradition for almost 40 years to lift the spirits of our community’s most vulnerable, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to experience the festivities with others.
After the experience of 2020, we are well prepared for a takeaway service, but we will make the day a special one with a Christmas roast and pudding, along with several other special items. “A meal is more than sustenance, it is a shared and precious experience that provides a new-found energy and hope,” says Head Chef Kirsty Davies.
“This is why Sacred Heart Mission is proud to support our community every day; but especially during this period when people experiencing homelessness might feel more isolated without families and connections.”
A meal at Sacred Heart Mission’s Dining Hall can mark the start of someone’s journey out of homelessness. This is how it was for Peter. When his marriage sadly broke down, his mental health declined and – at 43 years old – Peter found himself without a home.
A simple butter chicken in the Dining Hall was the spark he needed to make a change in his life. “Visiting the Dining Hall is the most brilliant thing I ever did. Good meals, friendly people. It was a safe place,” Peter says.
He’s in a good place now, living in residential aged care at Sacred Heart Community, where he has found a home for life and a loving community.
You can support Sacred Heart Mission’s Meals Program by donating here or by calling 1800 443 278. A $4 donation will provide a meal to someone experiencing homelessness this Christmas, and we need your support more than ever in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to COVID-19, we cannot accommodate photo opportunities during our Christmas meal service, but we would be happy to coordinate a phone interview.
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