In 1981, the churches of the Uniting Church Yokine Region Parish conducted a community study to assess how they could serve their community and, recognising the physical needs of the struggling members of their community, they established Uniting Aid at Dianella Uniting Church.
This year is Uniting Aid’s 35th Anniversary and it really is an organisation worth celebrating.
At its inception, Uniting Aid was aphone-in service for co-ordinating community assistance. The services provided then were broad: lifts for people to essential appointments, grocery shopping assistance, moving goods by trailer, and providing occasional respite for in-home carers. These days, Uniting Aid looks different in service, but is similar in spirit. Now operating out of a building in Nollamara, the use of which is donated by the Uniting Church WA, Uniting Aid is made-up of 65 volunteers who undertake a variety of tasks across the week.
Margaret Waller, chairperson of Uniting Aid, said the volunteers are fantastic.
“We’ve got a couple of people who drive to the airport once a fortnight to pick up food from inflight caterers from flights that are cancelled. The food is all sealed and they would just have to throw it away. But instead they choose to give it to Uniting Aid and other charities.”
Financial counselling is the newest avenue of assistance that Uniting Aid provides to the community.
“We don’t get any funding for it,” Margaret said. “We do it entirely from our own resources; our counsellors are fully trained, but they have paid for their own training.”
Margaret recently undertook a cost/benefit analysis of Uniting Aid. She found that the monetary value of Uniting Aid’s donated services (not including government grants) is approximately $734000 per year. Without donations – including the use of the building, food, clothing and the volunteers’ time – Uniting Aid would not exist.
In 2015, Uniting Aid supported 2 304 clients, each often representing multiple family members. Uniting Aid is open to the public two mornings a week and one other morning for financial counselling. On average they conduct slightly more than 23 visits per day in a two and a half hour period. In that small allocation of time, 65 volunteers serve thousands of clients and their families every year.
“It just shows the need,” Margaret said “The big problem, of course, is the still high cost of housing and utilities.”
Uniting Aid’s 35-year heritage is a testament to the hard work and generosity of volunteers, businesses and community members contributing time and goods for tpeople living in the City of Stirling.
Uniting Aid will celebrate their anniversary at their Annual Public Meeting on Friday 21 October at Nollamara Church of Christ. Members of the public are welcome.
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