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Merriwa Corps 'Lounge Room' offers a place to call home

Merriwa Corps 'Lounge Room' offers a place to call home

Merriwa Corps 'Lounge Room' offers a place to call home

28 August 2018

The Lounge Room at Merriwa Corps, north of Perth, is providing a safe and caring space for a growing number of community members who are connecting with the corps.

By Simone Worthing

“People who used to come, with hesitation, to the Lounge Room after their Doorways visit, now come every week and stay for hours, because they have found friendship and community in a safe and caring place,” said Major Nikki Novell, Merriwa Corps Officer.

The Lounge Room is a space at Merriwa Corps, almost 40km north of Perth, where anyone can come in to relax, have a conversation, and be accepted for who they are.

Free haircuts are part of the Lounge Room services.

There are comfortable couches, showers, and soup and toasted sandwiches available, as well as bread and other food items from Second Bite and OzHarvest that they can take home with them.

Tables are set up with Bibles, Warcry magazines, God’s promises written out in boxes, and adult colouring-in books so people can sit, read and colour.

Corps members also offer services such as free haircuts and clothing alterations. Orange Sky also offers its mobile laundry service each week.

“A significant part of this ministry are our ‘connectors’ – people whose role it is to chat and connect with those who come into this space,” explained Major Novell.

“There can be up to 70 people in the Lounge Room at one time, so it’s important there are people there to be there for them.”


Community

The Lounge Room is open every Friday from 9am to 2pm. It plays a key role in Doorways (an entry-point crisis support service), allowing clients to build friendships and enjoy community, as well as access material support.

Community members are also making connections with the corps through their Lounge Room experiences.

A couple of people have been attending the new Alpha course, a few have started coming to church and others have begun volunteering with the corps.

Others have found a place at the Harry Hunter Rehabilitation Centre, or The Beacon, The Salvation Army’s crisis and transitional accommodation facility in downtown Perth.

The Lounge Room volunteers serve up the famous toasties.

“It’s just been great to see the community itself connecting and that the Lounge Room is not just a place to toast a sandwich,” said Major Novell. “Our intention is for it to be much more than that.”

Lisa, who comes in every week, says it’s a safe space to forget about the stresses of life for a while, and relax with friends.

“Volunteers, staff, other community members are all so welcoming and accepting,” she said. “We all have different stories to tell and different histories, but nobody judges each other. I feel so comfortable here.”

Lesley says in a society where it’s easy to isolate yourself, it’s good to come to a place like the Lounge Room and mix with so many friendly, open and welcoming people.

“Family ... it’s like family coming here,” she said. You can relax, talk to people, re-energise and get a different outlook on life. I’ve made friends here and just love coming.”


Future opportunities

Many clients from places north of Merriwa, including Yanchep (20km) and Two Rocks (25km), regularly come down to the corps for Doorways assistance and to spend time in the Lounge Room.



“We are exploring some options for next year, and possibly having a team go to Yanchep each week to run something similar,” said Major Novell. “We have a team in place and are looking at funding options and renting a property.

“The whole area from Merriwa to Two Rocks is a massive and growing development, so we want to see what we can do up there and how best we can be a presence in the local community and provide access to our services.”


Regular activities

The Merriwa Corps is buzzing with activity every day of the week.

As well as Doorways and the Lounge Room, the corps is also used for a variety of other community programs including Mercy Care, children’s groups, Alcoholics Anonymous groups, diabetes care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and Interlife – a group for people with disabilities who are learning cooking, dancing and other skills.

Positive Lifestyle Training is also a significant corps ministry, with seven trained facilitators and a waiting list for participants – many of whom come through the Doorways program.

“We are also making appointments for Doorways clients to get vouchers, and having more intentional conversations around their needs,” explained Major Novell.

Comments

  1. This place is a haven in a barren world. I came as I was unemployed and on New Start. Its a place of peace acceptance and community. This is real life and real Christianity. I have started volunteering washing up and its a privilege to serve others in need. Major Nikki and her team are Angels.

  2. I came into the Lounge Room as was unemployed and on New Start. Just having a place to sit and to be...to be accepted, to be heard, acknowledged and to feel part of a community is awesome. Somewhere to belong.
    There is such need and the Lounge Room plays its part in meeting this need...but its so much more than that.
    I now volunteer in the kitchen and its a privilege to serve others n the community. Major Nikki and her team are Angels in a barren place

  3. Doorways is a safe haven amidst the storms of life. I’ve enjoyed times there making new freinds and been able to indroduce family and friends to mix and mingle. The volunteers treat you like Gold and it’s a great opportunity to explore your faith and re-evaluate life choices

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