Breaking bread, sharing life at Streetlevel
10 November 2016
“Donors are making an investment in the life of someone they don’t know, and they may never meet, but it is changing people’s lives. We’re seeing that firsthand. I believe it’s a very worthwhile investment! - Paul Maunder, Streetlevel discipleship coordinator
Seven years ago, The Salvation Army Brisbane Streetlevel Mission began as a small faith-based drop-in centre, developed to provide a safe and supportive community for people in need.
Late last year, the service moved from Fortitude Valley to nearby Spring Hill. As part of the move, funds from a specific bequest allowed for the development of an industrial kitchen, which serves to provide healthy meals for many who are struggling with poverty and homelessness.
The self-funded Streetlevel service now serves more than 400 meals a week, plus a family-style monthly Sunday roast (for around 120 people).
Streetlevel’s Paul Maunder says the meals are an extremely important part of the service. “The shared meals help build a sense of community and also often serve as an entry point for many who go on to access other services through Streetlevel.”
In addition to meals, Streetlevel offers emergency accommodation, referrals, chapel and Bible studies, outings, visits from Salvos Legal representatives, camps, prison and post-prison support. The service also runs a coffee van and local Salvos Stores outlet (strongly supported by volunteers) to help fund the service. Streetlevel community members are also encouraged to volunteer within the wider community, including helping after natural disasters such as floods.
“At the heart of what we believe at Streetlevel, is that people need to know they are loved by God and by others, and they have a safe space in the world,” says Paul. “That, in turn, provides the pathway for them to grow and find confidence and stability at their own pace.”
Paul says the volunteering component at Streetlevel is vitally important to personal growth, confidence and experience.
Sarah, a volunteer, was first invited to Streetlevel while staying at The Salvation Army Pindari Services (emergency accommodation) about five years ago. With a background in hospitality, she was drawn to the Streetlevel meals program and now runs the kitchen each Monday and Tuesday.
“I like doing the kitchen,” she says. “For people who can’t afford food, who have nothing, it means a lot to them. I just really like helping people. I get a lot out of it personally and it’s good to see that they actually have got something to eat. I know what it’s like not to have food.
“Without Streetlevel I would hate to think where I’d be; plus they have really become my family now!”
By Naomi Singlehurst