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Launceston tunes into community needs

Launceston tunes into community needs

Launceston tunes into community needs

27 February 2020

Launceston Corps is reaching out to the community in a variety of ways. Here, ‘Shieldy’, The Salvation Army mascot, mixing with some young supporters at the Launceston Tornadoes basketball game.

By Jessica Morris

Good morning Launceston, you’re listening to WayFM! The chirpy voice of the breakfast radio announcer is heard above the background noise of bacon and eggs sizzling on a hotplate and the chatter of a roomful of people.

Instead of a plush studio, the WayFM announcer is sitting in a Salvation Army hall, where clients from the Doorways program are enjoying breakfast served by the WayFM team as part of a collaboration between Launceston Corps and the listener-supported community radio station.

The growing relationship between the corps and the station began following the 2019 Red Shield Appeal, when Auxiliary-Lieutenant Roderick Brown and Ministry Assistant Kelly Brown sought publicity for the appeal. Looking for more innovative ways to partner with the family-friendly station, a friendship developed with the WayFM team. “They offered to come and do a live broadcast once a month,” says Kelly. “There’s such a buzz about the place when they come!”

Salvos volunteer Anita Reeve with the Street Team trailer at the WayFM monthly breakfast.

The Doorways program offers clients a free breakfast each morning, and access to a shower, washer and dryer. “The meal is basically for those who are homeless or experiencing financial distress,” explains Roderick. Kelly adds, “We see 10-15 people every morning, and then the WayFM team come in one Wednesday every month for the broadcast and make bacon and egg muffins for them!”

The breakfast radio program is just one way Launceston Corps has partnered with an organisation to reach out to the community, with camaraderie also being cultivated with the local council and police.

The corps has become a member of the Launceston Safer Community Partnership, contributing volunteers to Street Teams once a fortnight to keep partygoers safe in the city. A recent grant from the Tasmania Community Fund also means these teams come with an upscale coffee cart. “The teams’ intent is to help keep partygoers safe, arrange safe transport home and serve coffee!” says Roderick. “We give people a chance to take a break from the club during the night and come have a chat.” 

disadvantaged families

Roderick says Tasmania’s homelessness crisis is at the forefront of Launceston Salvos’ work. He points out that disadvantage isn’t just found on the city streets, but also in surrounding suburbs and schools as local families do it tough. A partnership with Tasmania Divisional Schools Coordinator Sarah Davidson has given the corps a chance to embrace a new sector of the community.

“A Girls Day Out was done in partnership with the Beyond the Classroom project," says Kelly. "We had 30 girls from several primary schools across Launceston come and engage in activities that gave them both a focus back out to others in the community, and also working alongside each other.”

Jesse and Aleah have connected with the Kids in the Kitchen program at the corps. 

The Girls Day Out has also led to eight participants joining Kids in the Kitchen – an initiative run through Beyond the Classroom to teach children about food preparation and health. And they’ve also seen crossover, with many of the girls’ families attending corps events including its monthly movie night. “A lot of families experiencing disadvantage come to our movie night because they can’t afford to go as a family to the cinemas,” says Roderick. “We see between 50-70 people come to the corps to watch movies like Dumbo or Toy Story 4. And for $2 entry they see the movie and receive their movie munchies ticket for a selection of tasty snacks!”

Like the schools initiatives, the Mainly Music program has also become an entry point to the Salvos in Launceston. Beginning the program 18 months ago, the corps purposely shaped it with an Excluded Communities model, creating pathways for people experiencing higher levels of disadvantage to connect with the community, parenting groups and Doorways. “We aim to help build social inclusiveness and connections for those who attend,” explains Kelly.

making a difference

Launceston Corps has mastered the art of coming alongside others, an aspect of The Salvation Army Australia Territory’s Vision Statement, learned only through experience. Sometimes this happens in the spotlight. After all, when the local Women's National Basketball League 1 club, Launceston Tornadoes, gives Salvos mascot Shieldy a chance to promote The Red Shield Appeal alongside local alderman and Red Shield ambassador Janie Finlay, how do you say no?

But, most often, walking beside people on the margins happens in the small moments. Like when the corps women’s group fundraises for the African Women of Worth project, or the local Salvos Stores partners with the Behind Clothes Drawers Market to sell and receive clothing to fund community services.

For one day a month, though, Launceston Salvos know that coming alongside their community looks like blitzing the airwaves to the tune of a hearty breakfast and a fresh load of laundry. Because it’s the simple things that make all the difference, and that occurs when we walk together, one step at a time.

“Jesus always stood in solidarity with the poor and those on the fringes of society,” says Roderick. “So as we go about our mission each and every day, we simply try to follow his example as best we can, in helping people experiencing hardship to find belonging and community.”

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