Mission Australia brings cheer this year
There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a hard year for many Western Australians, but there are many who were doing it tough even before COVID-19 struck. Job losses, business closures and general belt tightening has been felt across the community, with many in the not-for-profit sector seeing a spike in demand for services ahead of Christmas.
While many people can’t wait for Christmas, others may be wondering if they’ll be alone or how they’ll feed their kids and bring them a little festive cheer come December 25.
For 45 years, Mission Australia’s Christmas Lunch in the Park has helped provide a nutritious meal, a sense of belonging and companionship, some entertainment and much needed necessities to those who may be experiencing homelessness or disadvantage in the Perth community. It’s also a place to connect vulnerable people with community support and services that may help in the longer term to break the cycle of disadvantage.
This year, for the first time in its 45-year history, Christmas Lunch in the Park will take place at a Langley Park, with nearly 1400 people expected to attend Australia’s largest and longest-running community-funded Christmas charity event.
Mission Australia State Director WA Jo Sadler says the charity remains committed to delivering the Christmas Lunch in the Park event to support vulnerable people within the Perth community, and this is only more so considering 2020’s challenges.
“Obviously, with Australia experiencing an unprecedented health and economic crisis, it’s more important than ever to support our most vulnerable community members,” she says.
This year’s event will also provide a new service offering of warm showers and haircuts, which will be available to all guests thanks to Mission Australia’s partnerships with One Voice, Destiny Christian Centre and Short Back & Sidewalks.
“These services are a fantastic addition to our event, offering those who may not have access to basic supports such as a shower and a haircut, the opportunity to sit down for Christmas lunch with a sense of dignity and pride,” Sadler says.
Coffee company with a difference, Change Please, will also have a cart on the day for the first time this year, offering their award-wining coffee free to all guests.
Sadler says a veritable army of more than 400 volunteers have already signed up to help ensure this year’s event runs smoothly and safely, and so everyone is welcomed, meals are served, children entertained and memories created.
“The event would not have been possible this year without the financial support of the WA community,” she says. “We are always incredibly grateful to our corporate and community partners who make donations towards the event, as well as Lotterywest, who have provided us with an extremely generous grant of $192,896, which will go towards ensuring the event can go ahead in a COVID-safe manner.
“We are making a call to the WA community to help someone who may be less fortunate this Christmas by making a donation to help ensure that Christmas Day 2020 is one they will remember. A donation of just $25 will provide lunch and a care pack for a single guest and $100 will help us to feed a family of four on Christmas Day. We realise this year has been tough for many and we appreciate every single donation we receive, no matter how small.”
To donate to this year’s Mission Australia Christmas Lunch in the Park, go to christmaslunchinthepark.com.au