The Kwinana Salvation Army community centre has a new line of services to help vulnerable people.
The not-for-profit centre provides a space for locals to connect with others and to feel welcome, whether it’s to enjoy a cuppa and a bite to eat, use the free laundry facilities or access emergency relief.
About 60 people gathered at the new community centre and Toastee Spot free cafe to celebrate the official opening.
Salvation Army captain Jodie Jones said she and her husband Gavin came up with the concept for a community hub through speaking with people who were doing it tough.
Mrs Jones said helping others had always been “heavy on her heart” and she wanted to find a way to “alleviate people’s struggles and suffering”.
“I realised that we couldn’t do it alone and that’s when we started to reach out to the local council and other services for support to form the hub,” she said.
“Reading the Salvation Army stocktake showed what some of the social situations were across our different government areas and hearing people’s concerns and lived experiences were really highlighted.”
Mrs Jones said one of the main concerns that arose from COVID was being disconnected from other people.
“For example, if you’re unemployed and you don’t have spare money to be able to let your kids join in sports, you’re already less connected with other people,” she said.
“You’re not talking to other parents or you’re not necessarily going out into the community eating out . . . so you’re becoming isolated.”
She said the City of Kwinana had been equally passionate to build and empower a healthy community, which led to the creation of the community hub.
“We knew the hall sat empty most of the week and there was nowhere in Kwinana that we were aware of at the time that you could go to if you couldn’t afford to pay or didn’t have anything to eat.
“We wanted a toasty warm space where people will feel warm, welcome, and comfortable, so that they aren’t the odd ones out or they don’t feel that they stand out because they didn’t get dressed up to come out.
“We read that colleagues in the Eastern States did cheese toasties. Everybody loves cheese toasties and so we went right, let’s call it the Toastee Spot.”
The hub also has a laundry and a dryer, which Ms Jones said alleviated the financial burden for those who can’t afford to buy a washing machine and lifted “personal dignity” so that people didn’t have to wear the same clothes or outfits that were not clean.
“That’s another little thing that can make people be a part (and) feel comfortable enough to come back into the community,” she said.
“We’ve got a couple of senior people who just come along because they were so lonely.
“They had nobody else that they connected with . . . they come in and give us the biggest smile when you say good morning and they just feel seen.
“We’ve got young families, families who are living in their cars coming in to get something to eat and just somewhere they can be that’s not in their car.”
Ms Jones said Kwinana Salvation Army hoped to introduce more services in the future with the help of volunteers.
The Kwinana Community Hub is open Tuesdays and Fridays, between 8am-1pm each week.
To find out more information or register as a volunteer, contact 6173 8700 or email head to salvationarmy.org.au.