New life in the bay

Bay Life Op Shop, out of Busselton Uniting Church, has opened in a new, revamped premises. The new shop stands on the site of the old Match Factory, which burnt down in an electrical fire in March 2019.

Having operated from a temporary site since then, and closing during COVID-19 restrictions, those involved are excited to be back in operation. With help from Uniting Church Insurance Services and Uniting Church WA General Manager (Property), Richard Patterson, as well as their hardworking Church Council and Minister, Rev Andy Broadbent, Busselton Uniting Church were able to receive the funds they needed to replace the burnt down building.

“It became apparent after we did a fair bit of research that the most economic and sensible option was to go with a modular building, manufactured offsite and brought to site,” said Yvonne Robinson, Chair of the Bay Life Op Shop.

“So, Fleetwood were given the contract to do that and they have been exceptional. They’ve worked with us to come up with a building that meets all of our needs. We’ve ended up with more floor space and a more modern well-designed building.”

Since the fire, a review was held and the committee decided to cease operations of a low-cost food centre which was no longer viable. The Bay Life Op Shop will, however, operate alongside the Bay Life Café, a community café run by volunteers providing hot and cold meals for a suggested donation, accommodating 20 to 30 people each day. The café can also help with emergency hampers and frozen meals, as well as providing a welcoming space for friendship.

“It’s much, much more than a café,” said Yvonne. “It works really well; we’ve built strong relationships with people we’ve been able to assist.”

The review also highlighted a new opportunity which will provide life-changing support to people experiencing financial struggles. The congregation will be starting up a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) financial counselling service, thanks to a grant from the Uniting Church WA Council for Mission.

“With the café really getting alongside people who need an extra hand, it became apparent that it’s the same people on the same treadmill all the time who never can break out of the cycle that they’re in,” said Yvonne.

“It felt like we were never offering people anything that could really change their future.”

Busselton Uniting Church will employ a CAP co-ordinator who will receive referrals and, with a small team of volunteers, support and encourage people to reach their goals. Budgeting and negotiating with lenders will be done through the CAP office in the Eastern States.

The Bay Life Op Shop, at Busselton Uniting Church, is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm. The Bay Life Café is open Tuesday and Thursday, 9.00am to 1.00pm, and Christians Against Poverty will be operating two days a week.

For more information visit busseltonuniting.org or follow the Busselton Uniting Church Facebook page.

Find out more about Christians Against Poverty at capaust.org.

Top image: Linda Stephenson, Manager of the Bay Life Op Shop.

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