There’s an astonishing amount of good work done by the community via the Willoughby Living Facebook Group. Here’s a round-up of just some of the amazing charities and initiatives either started in the Group or continually aided by the Group’s members. We’ll keep adding to this list so check back in to see who needs support and how you can help!
The SouperStars: providing food relief to the north shore community
One of our most amazing local charities Team SouperStars was born in April 2021 when two friends each made 6L of soup for a city street kitchen. One month later, they were making almost 100L per week and delivering these to street sleepers around Martin Place. And it was with huge thanks to the WL community…
“Six weeks ago my friend & I each took a small pot of soup to our struggle street community at Martin Place,” wrote WL member Alice Fong in a post. “We both got a kick when a street buddy responded “this soup makes me feel alive”. Thanks to you WL, we now serve almost 100 litres of soup per week.”
“In addition to making soup, we also provide nutritious meals, baked goods and whenever possible, supply kindness boxes,” says founder, Alice Fong. “We engage our local community via “Grab A Cuppa”, we listen, we chat, we connect. We receive as much as we give by being a neighbour.”
This year, the SouperStar team relocated their efforts from the city to the lower north shore. Along with street sleepers, they serve vulnerable youths, breadlines from hostels, residents in supported accommodation and an Indigenous community in Bourke.
“The demand for food relief is increasing due to Covid, supply chain and job interruption, family sickness, mobility restrictions, and mental health,” explains Alice. “We love people who love people. People who are happy to cook, give supplies, chat to our community. Local business who can give us a hand in supplying products or services.”
With support from the community, the SouperStar team recently donated a wheelchair to an elderly Indigenous woman with arthritis and gifted a second-hand washing machine, small appliances, bedroom furniture and a $150 Kmart voucher to a couple in need.
Alice hopes to reiterate their vision of creating “a community where we look out for each other and for people in need. A community with a sense of belonging, a happier and healthier place to live.”
There’s now over 100 active members of team SouperStar. If you’d like to make some soup or help out in other ways, please join the Team SouperStar Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/780006939568860
South Coast Donations: Ralph Lindsey
Willoughby Citizen of the Year and resident for nearly 20 years, Ralph Lindsey has been recognised for his continuous support for victims of the NSW South Coast bushfires and beyond. Since 2020, Ralph has worked with the generous Willoughby community to collect and transport much-needed goods to victims of the 2020 Bush Fires.
“When the fires began, I was like thousands of other Australians sending out food and water to the firefighters and communities,” Ralph says. “When the fires stopped, people wanted to get back on their properties and clear up, but their shovels and rakes and wheelbarrows had gone, so I started collecting as many tools as I could with the men shed organisations and sending them South. It’s just continued and grown since then.”
Under Ralph’s leadership, the Willoughby community not only donated food and tools but warm bedding, clothes, kitchenware, heaters, building materials and more. The Willoughby, Forestville and Dural Men’s Sheds are to thank for their efforts in collecting and trucking these materials South.
It has been over two years since the devastation of the bush fires, but people don’t realise how many people down South are still suffering.
“We are still working with the individuals that have been left behind or lost in the system,” Ralph explains. “Some are still struggling to rebuild, and some just haven’t been able to progress in any way at all.”
One example is an elderly couple living in the Cobargo region that has been living in a tin shed and cooking on a BBQ for 18 months. South Coast Donations hopes to provide them with a woodfired heater and stove, which Ralph recently posted a call out for on the Willoughby Living Facebook page.
Ralph and the volunteers at the Men’s Sheds are also currently helping people from flood areas up north to get back on their feet. He thanks the community for their constant generosity of spirit and says to keep your eyes out for his posts in the Willoughby Living Group for new requests.
Phoenix House, Crows Nest
One in eight young people in the Northern Sydney area aged between 15 and 19 years is not in education or employment. Addressing this hidden concern and the shortage of suitable services in the area is Phoenix House. For the past 30 years, Phoenix House has provided early intervention and support services to more than 300 young people living in Northern Sydney.
“We care, we educate and connect,” explains Phoenix House CEO, Paul Gabrielides. “In caring, we provide case management and counselling to our clients.”
This long-term, holistic support is available to at-risk young people aged 12 to 24 and their direct and extended families.
These young people can also access Phoenix House’s education programs that provide a safe place to complete their RoSA or school certificate, while they remain enrolled at school. A range of learn-ready, life-ready and work-ready courses are available to facilitate this learning.
The last focus for Phoenix House is helping youth re-engage in the community so that they don’t feel isolated.
“We focus on building someone’s self-esteem; that belief in themselves so they can connect back into the community…,” Gabrielides says.
Phoenix House relies on the support of volunteers, businesses, and community organisations to deliver its programs.
“People can donate if they’re able to, but donation of their time is probably more important,” he notes. “We have community-based programs where people can come in and cook or garden alongside young people… They can pass on their skills to someone who’s willing to learn.”
WL members can drop in for a Friday lunch, look out for posts in WL on events, fundraising and requests, or get in contact via the website to find out how to get involved. Website: https://www.phoenixhouse.org.au/
Pass It On Clothing & Co
“Pass it on Clothing & Co. is a social enterprise based in Lavender Bay that currently operates three weekly outreach services in Sydney City, Parramatta and Gosford alongside a monthly service in Arncliffe, a total of 13 per month,” says founder Chris Vagg.
“We take the clothing, shoes and accessories that you’ve donated and give them directly to those in need at a clothing station we set up. People can visit and select new clothing, and co-founder Olga Puga (a fashion stylist by trade) can offer her advice and compassion when choosing pieces.
“We began Pass It On after Olga had a cull of my wardrobe. After researching traditional charity models we realised the majority of donated clothing does not go to the homeless community, and we wanted to set up a direct method of giving. I used to work in stats for the NRL and with Olga’s job as a stylist this was a bit of a departure, but Olga’s experience has proven invaluable. We wanted to do something that had an immediate impact. We can have donations on the backs of those needing them most, within hours.
“The need we cater to is growing rapidly. We have drop-off points that are north, south, east and west of greater Sydney that are all serviced by public transport for our homeless/disadvantaged friends to access easily. Everyone is important and there’s absolutely no difference between those who are homeless and those who are not, except for the fact that those with housing have a safe place to rest at night.”
For more information on how to pass your good quality clothing items on to those who really them, or to make a donation, see https://www.facebook.com/passitonclothing/
KYDS Youth Development Service, Lindfield
KYDS Youth Development Service is a free, independent and accessible mental health support service for children and young people in Northern Sydney.
In 2003, Lindfield Rotary Club became aware that an increasing number of young people in the area were struggling with mental health issues, including the stigma associated with it. Sadly, there weren’t any local services available to help these young people.
Lindfield Rotary raised the necessary funds and partnered with Ku-ring-gai Council to establish KYDS. On 31 March 2005 KYDS opened its doors with one counsellor, who operated at the Lindfield library. KYDS supported 36 young people in its first year and since then has helped thousands more.
With no requirement for a doctor’s referral or mental health care plan, KYDS makes it easy to get counselling support, at a time when young people may feel they have nowhere to turn.
As well as early intervention through counselling, KYDS is committed to promoting mental wellbeing and the prevention of mental health difficulties in young people. A team of passionate, qualified health professionals offer a range of services that ensure young people have a voice in the type of intervention they believe will work best for them, including individual counselling, family-based interventions, parenting work, group work and online or face-to-face wellbeing programs.
KYDS does not receive regular government funding. Community collaboration with KYDS through fundraising, partnerships, community awareness activities and financial donations helps ensure young people can access mental health support when they need it, preventing them from having to waitlist for months to have their voices heard.
The community can help its local young people in a variety of ways:
- Become a community supporter and help spread the word about the important work of KYDS. This could include displaying KYDSinformation in your shopfront or workplace, following KYDSon social media and encouraging your workplace to include KYDS in their corporate giving program.
- Organising a fundraising activity on your own, or through your school, community group or workplace
- Joining our team of volunteers
- Running for KYDSat the City2Surf
- Make a donationin support of youth mental health
- Participating in local events that raise funds for KYDS, including the Bobbin Head Cycle Classic(The Bobbo) and Lindfield Fun Run.
- Partnering with KYDS in other ways such as sponsoring an event or donating a prize for our annual Colours of KYDS
See the website for more: https://www.kyds.org.au/ and keep an eye on the WL Facebook Group for posts requesting your help.