Every year there is a heartbreaking number of people with disability who fall below the poverty line. With one in five Australians living with a disability, it is more important than ever to support people to overcome disadvantage and inequity.
The St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland (Vinnies) Caloundra Conference has made it one of their missions to break this cycle and help people with disability find their voice and reach their greatest potential.
EPIC Assist (EPIC) was heartened to hear of the impact that the Vinnies Caloundra Conference is spreading in the disability community and are excited to announce them as one of the successful recipients in this round of community grants.
Since 1833, Vinnies has been working hard to support vulnerable people and combat social injustice. Bruce Franklin, a volunteer in the Caloundra Conference, says that their Conference aspires to shape compassion within the local community and encourage people to take control of their own destiny.
“What sets us apart from other charitable organisations is that our members are all volunteers who go out and visit the poor and marginalised in their own homes and on the street. In our Conference, most of the volunteers are quite elderly and have been serving the community for many years,” says Bruce.
Bruce is a passionate advocate for people with disability. Their Conference spends much of their service supporting and caring for people with mental health and learning disorders.
“We work with our companions, many of whom live with mental illness, to restore their dignity and provide a ‘hand-up,’ and not just a ‘hand-out.’ We advocate for them when they are confronted by challenging situations such as eviction, court cases, unpaid bills, or concerns at school,” says Bruce.
Bruce has seen first-hand the challenge that many of their companions face when transitioning from school to adult life. Together with EPIC, the Caloundra Conference is making the employment journey a priority.
“All of our volunteers have EPIC pamphlets. The ultimate ‘hand-up’ in our society is meaningful employment. Many of our companions are not aware of the support that can be provided should they wish to seek work, even in a part-time capacity,” says Bruce.
Recently, the Caloundra Conference has set up a food pantry with non-perishable items purchased from the Gympie Food Bank. Affectionately referred to as ‘Bill’s Pantry,’ the food hampers are personalised and delivered to vulnerable members of the community. EPIC’s Community Grant will help fund over 25 new food hampers.