While BeefBank.Org supply the much needed protein to put into the meals for the homeless, sometimes, we are lucky enough to get a glance into another perspective from a similar organisation. An interview with Ryan Wright from 139 Club sheds light on what goes on behind the scenes within an organisation passionate about winning the war against poverty. Helping the homeless and downtrodden, I had the amazing opportunity to gain some insight from Ryan this week; here is the interview with Ryan.

What made you join 139 Club?

I started as a volunteer while I was studying three years ago and never left. You become addicted to this kind of place. It can be sometimes tough, always busy and never boring.

What has the 139 Club taught you in your time there?

A whole lot of patience.

What in your opinion is the main nutritional deficit you see in the homeless you support? (ie. protein, water etc)

There are a variety of nutritional deficits that impact on our visitors. Diabetes and obesity have become very real problems for many of them. It’s important for us that we provide free or low cost healthy meals for people who are doing it tough.

How many homeless people do you feed each day in your cafe?

We serve an average of 3,000 free or low-cost meals a month to our visitors. Our kitchen provides breakfast, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea and soup five days a week.

Where do you get the food you require to stock your cafe?

The vast majority of our food comes as donations from Foodbank, OzHarvest and Second Bite. We have an extremely tight budget so rely on the generosity of these incredible organisations to help us keep delivering our services.

What story you would like to share from your time at 139 club that has touched your heart?

Given the nature of the kind of entrenched disadvantage that the bulk of our visitors experience, the cold fact is that sometimes “good” outcomes can be the exception, not the rule. Even so, the suites of support services that we provide have high success rates. What springs to mind are the highly intensive case management outcomes our support workers provide for many of our visitors.

We had a family (mum, dad, two kids and a bird) who came to us living/sleeping in their sedan. They were in a desperate situation, and felt as though they had run out of options. After long-term and highly intensive case management they are now safely and sustainably housed, doing well with the kids back in school and a healthy new bub added to the brood. They remain regular visitors to the club and continue to engage in case management to ensure things stay good.

If there was one thing forefront on your agenda you could push in advocating for the homeless, what would that one thing be?

Dignity and understanding. It’s all too easy for people to look at someone who is homeless and make snap judgements about “what they did” to end up in the situation they ended up in. It doesn’t matter to us why or how people come to 139 Club. We want to provide a space for people to feel welcome and safe. A place where they can be treated with dignity and respect. A place to make those first few steps to piecing their lives back together.

Club History

We were established in 1975 by a group of concerned citizens who set up a drop-in centre and a refuge for the homeless. This was first housed at 139 Charlotte Street, hence the name “139 Club”. The premises in Charlotte Street were sold in 1977 and six months later a home was found at Spring Hill. The organization originally operated under the umbrella of Queensland Council of Social Services with a shoestring budget and a strong commitment and support from a group of individuals and particularly from St Vincent de Paul Society.

In 1983, 139 Club became an independent incorporated association receiving government funding. Over the years, the 139 Club has grown in size and stature. In 1987, during the International Year of the Homeless, the 139 Club received a Commonwealth Government grant. This allowed us to build a new centre at 505 Brunswick Street Fortitude Valley, which was opened in January 1988.

Today the 139 Club provides a range of services for its clients including support to find short, medium and long term accommodation and wrap around services to meet immediate needs, such as meals, showers and day beds. (http://www.139club.com.au/139club/)

About BeefBank

The Rotary Club of Brisbane Centenary proudly runs BeefBank. 100% of all donations going to the purchase and production of meals for the homeless and those in need. We work through Foodbank Qld to ensure the charities and non-profits on the front line of tackling this issue get the support they need. For more information visit us at www.beefbank.org or follow us on Facebook to see how we have helped provide over 300,000 meals to those most in need.

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