Volunteers needed for street outreach service
A STREET outreach service has made a public plea for more volunteers so it may continue to play a vital role in the lives of people in need.
The UCan Van was established by community organisation, Impact as a direct result of Drug Arm's departure from the city in late 2011.
It took more than two years before the service returned to the streets, with a slightly tweaked operating model but with the same vision to provide a listening ear and support to the homeless and anyone in need.
Team leader Becky Spruce said the team began nightly patrols on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but found there was not as many in need on one of the nights.
"Some of the churches were offering soup kitchens and things like that on a Thursday night," she said.
"It's really sporadic - you can't expect people in those circumstances to have a routine."
The van times then changed to every Tuesday night and only every second Wednesday morning and night due to still not having enough members to do two nights each week.
The passionate social worker said becoming a volunteer did not require a massive commitment, just a few hours once a month at a minimum.
"It will give people a realistic view of Bundaberg and the kinds of people who are out and about at that time of night, from a 14-year-old boy right up to a 65-year-old man," she said.
"It's people who are just in need - of assistance, a chat, a warm cup of tea and a little bit of reassurance."
Ms Spruce said the homeless and people who found themselves out on the streets often just needed someone to talk to.
"These people aren't always committing crimes and being a drain on society," she said.
"They are quite self-sufficient but they do require a bit of reassurance that we are there for them, whether it be for a decent conversation or reassurance."
The van has been lucky to secure donations from community organisations as well as Shalom College, and Brumby's bakeries also donate fresh loaves of bread for the service to hand out, as well as McDonald's donating breakfast vouchers.
Ms Spruce said there was no other service in Bundaberg similar to what the UCan Van offered.
"We've got the van and we are mobile," she said.
"I don't think there is anyone else in town doing that."
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, call Ms Spruce or Rick Johnstone on 4153 4233.
JUST A FEW HOURS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE:
I KNOW many of us are time poor, with our diaries choc-a-bloc with appointments and engagements, leaving little room to even consider the "volunteering" word.
But I promise you this - if you can give up just three hours one night a week, that is enough time to make a difference in someone else's life.
Three hours. That's less time than it took to watch Sunday night's back-to-back episode viewing of My Kitchen Rules and Revenge.
After watching Drug Arm close its doors in Bundaberg abruptly in 2011, as a volunteer I saw how valuable this kind of service was to our community.
And it's not just the homeless you can reach out to.
It's also the dad of eight who's turned up to the park at night to let his kids expel some energy, who is not actively seeking assistance but beams up at the volunteers when they offer a couple of loaves of bread to help with school lunches.
People don't have to be homeless to be in need.
We're all quite capable of lending a listening ear, making a warm cuppa and offering reassurance - tasks that might sound menial to some but mean the world to others.