Redland Community Centre – Transforming lives with compassion.

Stepping inside Redland Community Centre, you’ll be greeted by a variety of fruit, veg and clothes available for free. Should you require further relief, friendly staff and volunteers are ready and waiting to help.

From free counseling services, emergency relief, homelessness support, financial counseling, and food relief parcels, the Redland Community Centre offers a wide variety of services for anyone who finds themselves in need of assistance.

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Recently, those who require this assistance has not only increased but also changed, as Ronan, Operations Manager at the Centre explained:

“It’s been busier, but it’s been different. What it has been is a shift in the demographic. The demographical shift that’s happened is about those who are working poor, the mum and dad, the families that, could just afford it before are now struggling. They’ve never had to access services before, so they’re accessing services now because they just can’t make ends meet. They’re working full time; they’re working their butt off.” – Ronan

Open five days a week, struggling families can access the support they need. Each day between 10 to 20 people use the Emergency Relief service available. Those accessing this program range from the ages of 15 to 80+. Allison, CEO of Redland Community Centre, spoke of one such elderly service user who had found herself in extreme circumstances. Allison explained:

“Four doors down from the centre, an elderly lady was eating cat food. Her house looked great, but inside she was struggling. She had children that were interstate, but she didn’t tell them. We got involved, we advised her not to eat the cat food and we gave her food. We phoned up her son, and her son was horrified. He said, ‘What?’ She didn’t say anything like that, and the elderly won’t. They don’t want to bother their children.”

The centre organised for the lady to fly down to her son, now reunited she is living a much better life. This is just one of the countless examples of how the Redland Community Centre betters the lives of community members. While over 80% of service users first connect with Redland Community Centre during a crisis, many find their other programs to also be of great assistance. Allison described the journey:

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When they arrive here, they are pretty desperate. They get serviced in Emergency Relief through the assessment with crisis support. It might be a home-cooked hot meal that we provide them. Then they’re moved through another program, it could be through Homeless United, which will pick them up and we will actively support that client to be housed if that’s what they want. Our focus is on the client.” – Allison

Homeless United, a program that began in 2017, started after Allison saw an unmet need in the Redland community. This saw 25 homeless individuals, each night of the week provided with a home-cooked meal. One requirement, Allison said was, You joined our table. You didn’t take the meal and wander off into the darkness. We wanted you to come back and join society. Whatever that meant.”

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This program successfully saw all 25 participants housed. One such participant had reached out to Allison after gambling away his money and his family. After entering their counselling services and Homeless United Program he was able to give back. With his help, he helped Allison develop and lead the Homeless United Program. Not only did this program see him find a roof over his head, but it also led him back to his family.

The success of this program continues today, despite being unfunded by the Government, and the Redland Community Centre has a remarkable 58% successful tenancy rate. In January 2024 alone, five homeless individuals found a safe place to live.

Many who access the Homeless United Program also find help through Money Finder and Financial Counselling Programs. Through these two programs, the Centre can understand why people are struggling to afford necessities, like food, Allison explained:

“The working poor are now faced with the most instability of all socio-demographic. Even your welfare dependent.”

Allison explained how people who access welfare and live in social housing usually spend about a quarter of their income on rent. Despite its being quite low, they know exactly how much they’ll pay, so they can plan their finances accordingly. This stability helps them manage their money better, whereas,

The working poor, both parents are working, you’ve got childcare considerations. You’ve got just the cost of getting to work, looking good at work, all of this. Food, fuel…then the rent goes up, or the mortgage goes up. They are in all sorts of trouble. They are now living off credit cards.” – Allison

This is causing people to pay for groceries with buy now, pay later options. More and more service users are, unfortunately, living in denial of their financial situation.

With this reality now becoming the new norm, many of Foodbank’s frontline Charities, like Redland Community Centre are faced with an increasing demand for their services. You can assist, if you are in a position to help Foodbank Queensland provide more food across the state to support Queenslanders in need, please consider joining the fight against hunger as a regular giver.