Cafe Salvo - Noble Park
The Salvation Army’s Noble Park Mission Centre in the outer south eastern suburbs of Melbourne operates Café Salvo. Homeless men and women, welfare recipients and asylum seekers frequent the cafe. It is also a common sight to see shoppers, seniors or teachers on break coming to mingle with everyone. Corps Officer, Envoy Graham Kennedy, describes the place as a corps community, mission centre and public café in one.
Being based in one of suburban Melbourne’s disadvantaged regions,where unemployment was lastmeasured at 9.5%, affordable food and drink are a big part of Café Salvo’s appeal. At its busiest fortnightly community lunch, the small café has hosted 90 people. The café is open Tuesday to Friday with a variety of programmes and activities on offer at the church, including music programmes and social and outreach groups. Trainee hospitality students, local members of the community and asylum seekers make up the bulk of volunteers at the café and centre.
The Noble Park Mission Centre and café allows the church to reach out to the community and is achieving positive outcomes for people in need. At the centre, individuals are linked into local recruitment agencies and other service providers. Food parcels, vouchers and other household items such as toilet paper and cleaning products are also available for local people in need. Emergency relief workers estimate that approximately a third of people seeking relief from the centre are on Newstart allowance.
One regular visitor to the café and centre is Maria,* a 70 year old woman who immigrated to Australia from Italy in 1966. A victim of domestic violence and suffering poverty and hardship, Maria originally came to The Salvation Army for financial support and food parcels.
She has since found that the support and friendship with members of the church has been most valuable to her. She visits the Noble Park Mission Centre regularly and has formed a close bond with the corps officers whom she now calls her family. Maria attends the church on most Sundays and is part of a women’s group that meets each Thursday.
“The Salvos are good people,” she says. “They listen to me, they help me, they love me.”