More than your average op shop

Malcolm Getting his Covid vaccine.

THE money raised by the Fremantle Long Table Dinner helps St Pat’s provide invaluable support to the homeless and disadvantaged.

This year it has launched several exciting initiatives including their Community Store on Adelaide Street in Fremantle, which helps those transitioning out of homelessness or experiencing hardship.

The store provides a range of items including clothing, household goods, basic food, sheets, towels, cleaning equipment and other essentials.

Everyone welcome

“Most Op Shops these days are either a place for thrift, or a place for middle Australia to find a bargain, but we haven’t seen any before where everyone is welcome; this was our aim to create a place where anyone from the community can meet and found something that suits their needs,” St Pat’s CEO Michael Piu says.

“Items are sorted to ensure that quality donations are allocated to people most in need. Individuals transitioning out of homelessness, or in crisis are provided with a voucher allowing them to access donated goods for free.

“Special prices are provided for anyone with a concession card, and the public can purchase selected items at full price with all funds reinvested into the store.

“Our Community Store concept puts dignity back into how people receive assistance, by changing the way we distribute donations received by the community to those in need.”

Another initiative is Library Connect in the new Fremantle Library, which offers referrals and advice to people seeking information on support services in the local area.

“St Pat’s have employed a community support worker to be embedded in Fremantle Library, to connect with people experiencing hardship,” Mr Piu says.

“The Library Connect support worker also provides training, support and capacity building for City of Fremantle Library staff on a range of topics, including working with people who have experienced trauma.

“The project also aims to offer early intervention and support for people who are ‘newly vulnerable’ or are experiencing hardship as a result of covid-19.”

St Pat’s has also entered into a partnership with My Home Australasia, which will see 18 longer term homes built in North Fremantle for older homeless women.  

An innovative approach to social housing, the pilot project is a partnership with government, philanthropy and the community sector; reactivating neglected pieces of land with energy-efficient homes using state-of-the-art pre-fabricated construction.

“These compact homes were co-designed with people with lived experience of homelessness to ensure they provide appropriate and dignified longer term housing options,” Mr Piu says.

St Pat’s also recently took over the management of 100 Hampton Road from the state government, increasing its community housing to around 350 units, expanded its critical dental care, and more than 320 people got Covid vaccinations at its Day Centre in Fremantle.

“Supporting people facing homelessness to access vaccinations has been a high priority for St Pats as they are at particular risk of serious adverse outcomes including death if they contract covid-19,” Mr Piu says.

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