New Salvos hub brings services together at St Marys

Craig Battersby, Prue Car, Paul Moulds and Belinda Donovan. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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St Marys Salvation Army Community Connect has been officially opened in a ceremony held on Friday, May 10.

St Marys Salvos Community Connect is a hub combining Salvation Army services Employment Plus, Greater West Salvos Community Services, Moneycare Financial Counselling and Financial Literacy, Doorways, Foundations, and Greater West Salvos Life Essentials Store with non-Salvation Army service Stride to create a one-stop-shop for those seeking assistance in any part of their life.

The hub is the brainchild of Belinda Donovan, Employment Plus’ National Projects Manager, who saw an opportunity to extend their offerings in an easy and accessible way when relocating from Penrith to St Marys.

“A lot of our people that come in obviously have other challenges and barriers in finding employment, and that can be from housing to clothing to vouchers or anything like that, so when we looked at a different site, we thought, ‘If someone comes in, what else can we do to support employment?’, because in the end, employment either starts that journey, or it could be the end of their journey where they’re starting to get their lives together,” she said.

In the last few months that it’s been open, Paul Moulds said the hub has been lifechanging for those who have come in, with volunteers able to break down even more barriers by introducing them to other services that they may not have known existed, from financial counselling to drug and alcohol services.

Paul Moulds shows Prue Car around the new hub. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“It is really opening people’s eyes that there’s a lot of support out there, and they just have to reach out,” he said.

This is emphasised by the new location being in St Marys, where Moulds said the most need exists.

“Our base has been in Penrith for most of our history in western Sydney, but one of the things that we realised when we looked at our future is that while we still serve Penrith, we wanted to put our base here, because when you look at the socioeconomic data, St Marys represents the poorest part of this LGA,” he said.

“The Salvation Army has always gone where the need is greatest, so we’ve done that.”

Last week’s event was attended by Deputy Premier, and Member for Londonderry, Prue Car, who noted that with the cost-of-living rising, there has never been a more urgent time for this to exist in the community.

Paul Moulds chats to journalist Cassidy Pearce. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“I really feel like this is an extremely significant day for this community in St Marys, and I’m really, really excited about the opportunity to work with the Salvos for the people that really need it in this community,” she said.

“Sometimes, I think we feel in St Marys we get a little bit forgotten in this community. We’re on the eastern fringe of the Penrith area. A lot of services have existed in Penrith for a long time, and I’m really, really happy that we have the weight of the Salvos, and the collective will of the Salvos, and the organising capacity, and the trusted brand as well, right here in St Marys.”

Local resident Craig Battersby, who has been using Salvos services for over a year, shared his personal story of overcoming addiction on the day, and how much the services and becoming a volunteer has helped him in his journey.

Though he noted the location change hasn’t made much of a difference to him personally, he’s excited to see it make the services more readily available to so many.

“It just makes our services more accessible for the community,” he said.

“We’ve got a wide range of services that we offer here, and having it all in one place just makes it easier.”

The centre is at 216 Queen Street, St Marys.

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