The Couch program at The Salvation Army on Bourke Street, Melbourne, is a place for international students to socialise and interact with others, as well as access support servicesand information. Major Brendan Nottle is the Commanding Officer at The Salvation Army in Melbourne and says it’s a vitally needed service.
“Lots of international students are struggling. It’s expensive for them to get by in Melbourne andmany can’t afford the basics like food, travel and accommodation. More than that, many are lonely, isolated or lacking any social connections.”
The program now operates four nights a week. More than 100 international students gather each night to share a meal and participate in a range of activities run by volunteers. The activities aim to build a sense of community by providing English conversation classes, barista training, movie nights, Spanish classes, yoga sessions and live music nights.
One volunteer recently won the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Metropolitan Youth Volunteer of the Year award for his work at The Couch - a fantastic achievement.