Along with the holiday season, another sweet delivery is upon us. Chocolates are arriving by the pallet load, generously donated to Addison Road Community Organisation by Heinemann Asia Pacific. A bunch of charities and community organisations are visiting our Food Relief Hub daily to pick up boxes of quality sweets and get them out to their communities.
Vans and cars are parked in a zig-zag pattern on the green outside Gumbramorra Hall. Oz Harvest have sent a refrigerated truck to get as many boxes as they can. The Exodus Foundation are doing a pick up. Youth Off the Streets are here. Rough Edges. Metro Assist. Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation. The Community Restorative Centre from Canterbury …
A ute is being steadily stacked with boxes by Mo Bloomfield. He works as a social worker at Yudi Gunyi School, “a special ed high school in Waterloo”. Mo says that it used to be known as Green Square School, but after consulting with the local indigenous community they came up with Yudi Gunyi, “which basically means ‘place of learning’.”
A lot of high schools in the Inner City and across the City of Sydney end up referring students to Yudi Gunyi School. “There’s often trauma or difficulties in the background of the students that come to us,” Mo says. “But at Yudi Gunyi when a student enrols, we are able to offer wrap-around health services for both the students and the parents. We have a psychologist, an occupational therapist, a paediatrician, a speech pathologist, an art therapist, specialist teachers … It’s supported by the Gonski Institute. It’s the first place of its kind in the state.”
“I love it,” Mo says, and you can feel the energy in his words when he says them. “Just the connection to community. A lot of my role as a social worker is about developing links between community groups. And helping students too when they move on after school with alternative education or pathways into careers. Yudi Gunyi is just so unique and multi-disciplinary in its approach. It’s a really special place.”
Mo is thrilled to come along today and get boxes of chocolates for the Christmas hampers that Yudi Gunyi School will be putting together for its students and their families. There’s a need for more than just basics, he observes. Food is about so much more than just survival. It connects to well-being and mental health and staying positive. Special treats like this, Mo says, hitting the side of one of the boxes, “contribute to allowing families to flourish and have some normalisation of their lives.”
In the wake of Covid-19, Mo has seen people that were doing it tough find themselves doing it even tougher. This often impacts on kids more than anyone else. Food security and something extra like some chocolates in a hamper can change the whole mood of a family’s life.
“It’s just amazing,” he says, placing one last box on the tray of his ute. “It’s really inspiring to come here to Addi Road and feel there is so much hope in the community. It’s not just the food being offered, it’s the extra things like these chocolates or just saying to people ‘hey how are you going?’ Coming here and seeing what is happening and getting these boxes, it’s great to get it, of course. But it’s also about seeing what is going on here and passing that along. It’s a beautiful story to tell all our families. To let them know the community is coming together.”