The Forest Lake Uniting Church in Ellen Grove has been providing welfare services to the community for several years.
What started out 9 years ago with a humble bread giveaway has grown into multiple community service programs that help care for the vulnerable and needy in the Forest Lake area.
Reverend Russell Reynoldson said the Forest Lake Uniting Church’s welfare services run all year round.
“We do a community pantry, so for those doing it tough they’re most welcome to come and get a free food hamper,” he said.
“The pantry is offered by the community for the community. We have a big pantry set up outside Woolworths in the shopping centre; people put items in that box and we give them to people in the community in need.”
Woolworths provides the church with daily supplies of bread and frozen meals to be handed out as needed.
The Forest Lake Uniting Church also provides assistance to those in need with food vouchers, fuel vouchers and rental support.
“We also do furniture and clothing,” Rev. Russell said. “We get a lot of calls from people who have suffered domestic violence and need to re-establish themselves, so we do what we can do to support them with furniture items and cooking supplies.”
The congregation has existed in the Forest Lake community for 30 years. In 2016 they moved to a new 2.7 acre location at 528 Waterford Road in Ellen Grove.
There they established an op-shop, gardens, a bush chapel, playgrounds, and a new church building which is also used by five other churches in the community and for private bookings.
They also transformed the existing house on the property into a coffee and bakery cafe, which is open to the community from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.
The cafe has a playground at the back for children to enjoy and Merlo coffees for $4.
The op-shop is open from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm from Monday to Friday and 9:00 am – 12:00pm on Saturdays.
“The op shop generates income so we can offer support to the community – so we can pay for a social worker part-time and a family worker,” Rev Russell said.
The church coordinates support with other organisations to help people with various needs, including helping homeless and displaced people find temporary and long-term housing solutions.
Rev. Russell said people could get involved in supporting the church’s welfare services in a number of ways.
“They can be encouraged to continue to buy food and donate to our food pantry at the shopping centre, or people could give financially towards our welfare,” he said.
“We’re giving out around $25,000 a year, so if people want to contribute financially they can make contact with me.”
To connect with the Forest Lake Uniting Church contact Rev. Russell on 0429 472 567.