As the winter nights begin to creep in earlier and sunny afternoons become shorter, one grassroots association is asking Canberrans to think of those who are doing it really tough – the city’s homeless.
That’s why on a Friday afternoon in Petrie Plaza, Civic, you’ll find a group of volunteers from Fair Canberra cooking up a storm for anybody in need, not only of a warm meal, but of a chat, a smile and maybe even some clothes.
Fair Canberra is entirely volunteer-run and engages with many multicultural communities throughout Canberra, as well as disadvantaged populations such as the homeless.
Among the usual faces of volunteers last week were a couple of more noticeable ones – Brumbies’ staff and players from both the men’s and women’s squads.
Brumbies player Reece Tapine said his motivations were simple – it was all about getting out in the community and helping people in need.
“We have food and a roof over our heads every day, but others aren’t that lucky,” he said.
Super W player Iris Verebalavu agreed.
“We are so privileged when it comes to everyday life and some of these people don’t even have the essentials. Even if we can give just a little and improve someone’s day a small amount, it’s better than doing nothing,” she said.
Brumbies operations manager Tony Abel has been the driving force behind the club’s engagement with community-led causes such as these.
He explained that he believed it was important for fostering camaraderie among the players.
“We are always looking for ways to teach the players about service, and by serving, they actually learn about themselves, teamwork and actually grow and become stronger,” he said.
The Brumbies players were also donating brand new jerseys, hoodies and jackets to those who came along for a bite to eat.
Fair Canberra’s Friday afternoon barbecues began after they were told by homeless people in Civic that there was a gap in service provision on Fridays.
Fair Canberra communications officer Daisy Matsika said they want to do their bit and cook a meal that’s a little more filling than an average sausage sizzle. Most of the food they receive is donated from local businesses.
Ms Matsika said it was exciting to have the Brumbies along as it raised the profile of their events and the work they strive to do on a day-to-day basis.
“I find it difficult to see people in need and not to help them. If I have the resources and the ability to help people today, I believe in sharing what I have and giving back to the community when and how I can.
“There are people who are doing it really tough, and it’s harder as we get into these colder winter days,” she explained.
She also emphasised that the work Fair Canberra does is about providing food, clothes, and other essential services like blankets, toiletries, and even books, as well as a friendly face and a listening ear.
“When it comes to things like mental health, sometimes it’s more important just to have a chat with someone and really engage with them as people,” she said.
To learn more about Fair Canberra and the work they do, or to get involved, visit them on Facebook.
If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness, OneLink provides information and connections for support services in the ACT, including services for families and young people.