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Anti-Poverty Week – Rose finds doorway to hope at Preston

Rose (centre), along with her fellow volunteers, is passionate about caring for others at Preston Salvos.

Amid the laughter of people playing board games and sharing in craft activities, the rustling of newspapers and the aroma of freshly cooked snacks, community connections and friendships are growing at the drop-in centre at Preston Corps in Melbourne.

Serving a culturally and linguistically diverse community in this north-east suburb, the service’s drop-in space welcomes all, including those who access The Salvation Army Doorways, which offers emergency relief and care.

“This is a safe place to relax and meet other people,” says Rose, a volunteer at the drop-in space.

Preston Salvos also runs church services and small groups providing spiritual care, a music program for people with disabilities, Doorways and a community pantry.

The drop-in space is open to all in the community, including those who access the Doorways service, with the understanding that economic and social isolation can be interconnected.

Giving back

Rose, who bakes snacks, serves in the community pantry and helps in various other ways at the drop-in centre, understands the importance of connection, especially for people who are struggling financially, physically and/or emotionally.

She faced many struggles in her younger years and is now thrilled to help others in the community.

As a single mother of five adult children and a part-time worker in disability care, Rose is overjoyed to “give back” to her community through the Salvos after receiving some support for herself and her family over the years.

Rose explains that when she was ready to return to study and the workforce, she had no computer skills. Through The Salvation Army Employment Plus, she was able to access training and then find work.

But Rose's connection to the Salvos goes much deeper.

Many years ago, when her children were younger, The Salvation Army helped Rose and her kids with Christmas food, gifts and some unpaid bills.

“I remember one winter I couldn't afford shoes for the five children, so The Salvation Army officers took us out to the shop and got them all shoes,” Rose smiles. “It really did help so much, and it also gave me hope that there were still good people out there.

“That care gave me a reason to keep going and keep moving forward. I hope I can now do that for other people in the community.”

Doorways to hope

Neda Shavandi, regional Doorways manager for Victoria-West, says, “The Preston drop-in centre is beautifully aligned with The Salvation Army’s Doorways model, inviting isolated community members to feel comfortable and connected. Support is about much more than a voucher or food parcel – it’s also about creating a sense of belonging.

“Preston is one of many examples of successful collaboration between the church, Doorways, other Salvation Army services, volunteers and community members,” she adds.

“We are just working alongside each other to try to empower and lift each other up.”

Under the Doorways model, in most states and territories in Australia, community members needing emergency relief first call the Salvos phone assistance line for assessment. They then visit their local Salvos centre to pick up emergency relief vouchers.

Some centres, often located on an existing Salvos corps site, also have dedicated Doorways case workers and offer additional support, like the Preston community pantry.

Neda says, “I tell our team, “I’m not here to teach you, and you’re not here to teach the community members; we are just working alongside each other to try to empower and lift each other up. With collaborations like the one at Preston Salvos, we are collectively getting better at doing just that.”

Rose says she “absolutely loves” the drop-in space and her community and that “giving back” as a volunteer has given her much in return.

“I’m also making lovely friends,” Rose adds.

“I see myself in this role for the rest of my life. I love it. Everyone who comes in here is totally accepted. There is no judgement. Everyone is made to feel welcome. It is just lovely.”

To call Doorways, phone: 1800 007 007

To make an appointment with a Salvos Moneycare financial counsellor, call 1800 722 363.


For more information on Anti-Poverty Week and resources, go to MySalvos here


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