It’s been a confronting summer for all Australians with the “Forever Fires” impacting on this carefree season and contributing to a general sense of helplessness that reaches far beyond the containment lines. Unparalleled donations aside, social media has been charting fundraisers and connecting those wishing to help. There’s plenty of evidence that the physical act of volunteering reaps a mental dividend and brings colleagues together. So, whether it’s starting Friday drinks early and sewing joey pouches while you sip, or signing on to assemble outfits for people in need, there are many local charities that will welcome your support. Here’s a list of worthy organisations within a short distance of The Office Space who would welcome your help – for as little as a couple of hours a fortnight or month. If you find a cause you have an affinity with sign up and the rewards will flow. Even better, pitch in with colleagues to create a genuine space for collaboration and make a real difference to someone less fortunate this year.
Turn a passion for fashion into something more meaningful by volunteering with Rough Threads, a local organisation that collects surplus new clothing stock from clothing companies and supplies it to those in need. (In the 2016 Census 116,000 Australians reported that they were experiencing homelessness – that’s one in every 200 people!). From volunteering as a sorting assistant at the Banksmeadow warehouse to helping piece together wardrobes at the Kensington clothing hub, there are many ways you can contribute depending on the time you can give. By helping those in need with new clothes, Thread Together is boosting morale and confidence while saving surplus fashion items from landfill. Domestic violence victims, the homeless, refugee agencies, indigenous groups, long-term hospitalised, people leaving prison and most recently, bushfire impacted communities are all beneficiaries of this wonderful initiative.
Here’s one for anyone who wants to jump to the front of the sausage sizzle queue on election day. Our public schools are always looking for enthusiastic community members to get help out and you don’t need to have children to be part of these vibrant communities. Bourke Street Public School Principal Jason Goode says volunteers can contribute in Literacy and Maths group situations. Or you may like to pitch in and share coding, design or sports skills. He’s also on the look out for Ethics Class teachers. Graphic designers can help outside school/work hours by designing flyers and contributing other event-based tasks. Other in-area schools are Crown Street Public School and the brand new Inner Sydney Highschool on Cleveland Street.
You may have noticed the Orange Sky vans on the streets: they now operate in all Australian capital cities, many regional centres and remote locations too. Two vans, Rebecca and Poppy, operate in the Sydney city area) and are custom fit to deliver a warm shower, a laundry wash and a large dose of dignity to marginalised people in our communities. Where can you step in? Simply sign up and turn up with an empathetic ear and good conversation. Once visitors have loaded their washing and enjoyed a shower you can pull up an orange chair and settle in for a non-judgemental chat while their washing cycles through. The brainchild of two 20-year-old mates from Brisbane, Orange Sky kicked off in 2014 and delivers a regular weekly – sometimes daily- service, turning up reliably, providing free amenities and a safe, positive and supportive environment for people who are too often ignored or who feel disconnected from the community. They also pop up in emergency situations, for example in towns impacted by bushfires. Volunteer at a nearby location – Belmore Park (Central)/Rushcutters Bay/Woolloomooloo and you’ll leave buoyed by the knowledge that you are helping the disenfranchised to build valuable connections and confidence.
No matter where you spent your summer, the images of our fire-ravaged landscape have left their mark. Turn anguish into action and register for a volunteering stint with Conservation Volunteers Australia. Planning is underway for Bushfire Ecological Restoration later this year – this is a one-off commitment of about 5 or 6 hours in the Greater Sydney Region. If you are interested in something more regular, other projects listed right now include weeding, planting and seed collecting on the the Guriwal Trail in Centennial Park and the ongoing restoration of Sir Joseph Banks Park in Botany.
This charity outfit is attached to the St John’s Anglican Church in Victoria Street Darlinghurst, an NGO-run café hub that performs as a safe place and community anchor for people experiencing homelessness and marginalisation. Volunteers are essential to the smooth running of Rough Edges and the fortnightly roster includes Sunday hosting shifts at the café which are lengthy but immensely rewarding. The application process begins with an information night (Feb 5th). You must also fill in an online application and undertake a volunteer training course. Ryan from Rough Edges also welcomes offers of specific skills so if you can give some time to admin or help design flyers for charity drives simply email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Café aside you can book in for corporate volunteer days or sign up for the big fundraiser of the year, RoughTober.