Breakfasts, building connections and belonging at Launceston Salvos
By KIRRALEE NICOLLE
A Tasmanian city corps has provided around 9700 free meals to the community over the past year.
The Launceston Corps began offering free hot breakfasts at the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020, and now offer breakfast six days a week.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Launceston locals can find fresh bacon and egg muffins and barista-style coffee at the corps, and all other days except Saturdays, staff and volunteers provide a continental breakfast.
Launceston Corps Officer Auxiliary-Lieutenant Roderick Brown said the meals were not just about filling stomachs but also about building connections with those doing it tough. He said when lockdowns began in 2020, many existing community services in the city were forced to pause. For the Launceston Salvos and local Christian radio station Way-FM who partnered with them to offer the meals, this was the perfect opportunity to step in and assist. Roderick said there was often a volunteer or staff member available to chat with those who came.
“One of the people that comes in always gives us a Christmas card at Christmas time,” he said. “It’s replaced a family and belonging. People have found a safe place to come into.”
Additional to the breakfasts, the Launceston Corps also partners with a local school and Domino’s Pizza to provide several monthly lunches.
Recently released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that over 2000 people declared themselves as experiencing homelessness on the 2021 census night in Tasmania. Roderick estimated at least 250 people were experiencing homelessness in Launceston, but said this number was likely much higher. He said up to about 40 people came to a breakfast, and about half were experiencing homelessness.
“In the winter we tend to see more people in that situation unfortunately,” Roderick said. He estimated the service would provide another 9000 meals this coming financial year.