A street kitchen and tent city has appeared right opposite the train station, in Fremantle. It all started on Boxing Day, when a group of volunteers offered food and tea/ coffee/ water to the homeless community. It’s now grown into a totally Fremantle community funded venture providing tents, sleeping bags, three meals a day, and drinks. The homeless people have rules to abide by; no alcohol, no drugs and no intimidating behaviour.
This is the link to their Facebook page, I am sure they are on other social media as well https://www.facebook.com/freostreetkitchen.
Why Fremantle station ? Well, it’s one of the most public places in Fremantle, and where everyone arriving here has to walk past the tent city. it’s looking to highlight the plight of these homeless people, man of whom have mental health issues, and Care in the Community has been a disaster for many impacted people. This is not a solution, it’s a band aid and raising awareness.
I am helping because, while I have no job right now, I have the luxury of good coffee at home, making a smoothie from fresh fruit, hippy nut milk ( coconut and almond, really nice) and being able to cut off the soggy brown bit of banana without a second thought. If I feel like something tasty ( avocado with smoked salmon anyone?), I can just go out and buy it. Also, while I am not working, I have the time and need the structure. It hasn’t been hard, filling the days, but I can feel the need to have some routine in my day.
This isn’t a solution to the multi-layered issue of homelessness in Australia. I spent two hours volunteering yesterday morning, and while the people behind the street kitchen are incredibly well-intentioned, I’m not sure this is the right approach for solving the issue of homelessness, mental illness and provision of services to help people define what is needed. I can also see issues around organisational abilities, food storage and preparation, and the ability of the volunteers to manage very vulnerable people. The street kitchen has no external funding, and is totally community supported, so is inherently self-limiting.
So, until I start working again, I’ll volunteer to help out at the kitchen at least one morning a week, and maybe cook a hot dish one evening a week. Once I’m working, this may become dropping off some supplies easily purchased at the supermarket. I will be watching with interest, and learning a lot about aspects of life here in Fremantle and Australia of which I am totally unfamiliar.