“You don’t feel alone… you’re a part of something”

30 July 2021
Three volunteers at the Dining Hall preparing takeaway meals

Sacred Heart Mission is committed to measuring and evaluating our impact so that we continue to evolve and serve our clients’ needs. A crucial part of this evaluation is gathering client feedback. Every year, we survey clients who access our Engagement Hubs or supported accommodation.

This cohort of clients are usually not actively receiving case management so this survey allows us to learn more about who they are, what they are experiencing, how their needs are being met at Sacred Heart Mission and where some of the gaps might be.

In April 2021, 85 Sacred Heart Mission clients participated in the survey. We have collated their responses into four main categories. Hear directly from clients below about what a takeaway meal has meant to them during a time of need or how Sacred Heart Mission’s services have helped others to feel less alone.

Download our survey results here

Who we heard from

  • Male – 75%, Female – 22%, Non-binary – 1%, Transgender – 1%
  • Aged 55 or over – 64% (median age of 59 years)
  • Born in Australia – 63%
  • Identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander– 5%
  • Identify as having a disability, chronic disease or illness and/or mental health condition – 76%
  • Nearly half of respondents have been accessing SHM services for 6+ years, and only 15% for 6 months or less.

What we learned

“The food has saved my life.” – Meals Program client

More than half of the clients surveyed mentioned meals. Many noted that the Meals Program is important for food and connection.

  • “Just having a full belly takes the pressure and stress off.”
  • “This [having a meal] was a godsend when I was unemployed.”
  • “The meals are always good, but they are secondary to the people.”
  • “[I value] not just the food. I appreciate the kind staff, a smile, to know that we’re not alone.”

“You don’t feel alone… you’re a part of something.” – Meals Program client

56 per cent of all clients surveyed mentioned feeling welcome, having a sense of community, our friendly staff or making friends. Some clients also described how this provides a pathway to support and contributes to a sense of safety.

  • “[People are] treated respectfully, which helps one’s self esteem. The professionalism of the staff and the caring nature.”
  • “[I value] the fact that everybody is non-judgemental and that there’s always someone available for a chat.”
  • “People are here to listen and care; they understand and see the struggles of people that come here.”
  • “[I value] the support: people listen, you feed us, everything is awesome. It is hard to describe how good it is. It saved my life.”
  • “They’re trying to help everybody… nobody is left out”

“I felt lost and in a bad way and even just chatting to people has been great… I can walk because of the services they recommended.” – Meals Program client

Another theme that emerged from the survey was how Sacred Heart Mission promotes health and health-seeking behaviors. Clients shared that it was more appealing to access health services in a friendly and familiar place and that our services had few barriers often posed through paperwork and eligibility.

  • “I wouldn’t be walking and mobile without their help [at the chiropractor and health services]; they literally saved my life.”
  • “The Wellbeing Program has not just transformed me, but it’s saved me. I can’t thank [staff] enough.”
  • “I know that you are always open, even in the holidays. I know I can come and have a feed. [I can access services although] I don’t have Medicare.”
  • “Being in a community… I already know I’ll improve my health here and be able to study again.”

“I value the support, connection and contact when things were running…” – Meals Program client

Clients at Sacred Heart Central asked for the reopening of the Dining Hall and activities, citing that Covid-19 restrictions have caused them to miss out on important social connections.

  • “When I come, I meet people. I have made friends here. I don’t see them much anymore. I wish I could sit with them again. I wish they would open the dining hall.”
  • “Before Covid-19, I liked eating in the dining room, not only meals but also meeting people.”
  • “I used to come for the social connection.”
  • “I value the support, connection and contact when things were running, the meals and Women’s House, when it was open, the wellness centre.“

We are just as eager as our clients to fully reopen our Engagement Hubs as soon as we are able to do so in a Covid-safe way. Sign up to our Heartbeat Newsletter to be notified when our Dining Hall can reopen.