Small Grants keep banking on generosity

Small Grants keep banking on generosity

CCI Giving continues to help organisations and causes that are going unfunded each year, through its Small Grants Program. Lending a hand to those on the frontline of community service benefits our most marginalised people in society and gives some financial relief to charitable organisations who provide them with assistance.

During May in 2018, almost $75,000 from the Small Grants program was shared among 11 recipients from the Round 1 release. The funds are supporting a range of social initiatives, one of which is The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in Victoria. The ASRC has used its grant to add a cold storage facility to their Foodbank, ensuring food security for their weekly visitors.

With ongoing cuts by the government to the SRSS – the Centrelink safety net for people seeking asylum – donations through the ASRC really are critical for many families who rely on the Foodbank for groceries.

Chantelle Bazerghi is the Community Food Program Manager for the ASRC, and she explains that many of Foodbank members have children to feed.

“It’s really important that these families have access to fresh fruit and vegetables and not just non-perishable items,” she says.

“Our Foodbank helps to sustain about 850 members who can pick up groceries weekly.”

“The centre receives rescued food from markets and supermarkets and we’ve had our own market garden since late 2017. During harvest time, our market garden delivers crops weekly so it’s been great to store this food and have it last so much longer.”

The ASRC’s market garden yields produce from 16 plots, delivering around 30 crates of fresh produce each week.

“Some of these crops are ‘hard to rescue’ foods for us. I’m talking about okra, herbs, garlic, and chillies for example. We also have people looking for broccoli, eggplants, and cauliflower. Our farm supplies the centre twice each week with large deliveries,” she says.

The centre has struggled with demand for storage space in the past, and cold storage for fresh produce has proven especially difficult.

“This was a concern during the warmer months of the year. The new cool room, purchased with funding from CCI Giving, has allowed the centre to store more food and enable food rescue teams to collect more from suppliers of rescued food. It’s a great addition to our Foodbank.”

In 2017-18, more than 60 per cent of Foodbank visitors had no income and at least 40 per cent were children. Chantelle explains the number of people in need has been rising as more people lose their income support.

“The fact is that rescued food doesn’t keep for long. Having the means to grow our operation and buy equipment to upgrade our facility has been critical to the wellbeing of families who can’t pay for food they need.”

Another grant recipient is Cana Farm, which has used CCI Giving funding for their horticulture training program.25 students have participated in organic market gardening and bee keeping, 17 of which have managed to secure paid work. Cana Farm’s program is known as the Life Transformation Program (LTP) because it focuses on care of the whole person. It removes barriers to education, improves participant wellbeing and provides support for the individual every step of the way. The result is that people become empowered to seize opportunity to change their lives and reach their potential.

Importantly, the LTP gives marginalized people a chance to learn and work; living a dignified and self-sufficient life. With personalised support, each person in the program receives a companion, vocational education and training, behaviour counselling, and paid work. Additionally, the organic produce helps to feed people at emergency shelters for the homeless in NSW, and for men and women who are staying at transitional housing.

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In Queensland and Tasmania, CCI Giving’s support has contributed to two Work Readiness programs that are helping students to be prepared for work and job interviews. These Beacon Foundation initiatives give students careers guidance and professional etiquette knowledge so they can confidently engage with industry professionals. The aim of the programs is to support young people in making positive life decisions and give them the tools they need to take steps towards being financially independent. 

A mentor for the program said “It provides a great opportunity to see and hear how students approach interview techniques and to give tips and feedback. It’s very powerful and valuable. I wish this program was in place when I was at school.”

A student of the program found the experience beneficial and described what they learned.

“I now have the skills and knowledge to successfully complete a job interview. I’ve learned a lot about how to present my personal brand as a successful and confident person.”

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Applications for the next round of the CCI Giving Small Grants Program will open on Tuesday, 11 June 2019. Find out if you are eligible here, or subscribe to CCI Giving to stay up-to-date.