Long-time volunteers Stephen and Toni with Comfort Kitchen team leader, Wayne Martin at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre. Photo: Contributed
Long-time volunteers Stephen and Toni with Comfort Kitchen team leader, Wayne Martin at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre. Photo: Contributed

Food for the tummy and soul amid ongoing housing challenges

Comfort Kitchen will return to the Hervey Bay Community Centre, with an important difference.

Sit-down meals are back on from Wednesday, April 14 and will be combined with a new community services hub, providing advice, connection and referrals to people in need.

The idea for the hub came from Ciaran Higgins, homelessness outreach worker at Community Housing Limited.

Mr Higgins has worked tirelessly in recent months to connect people affected by the ongoing housing crisis with support services.

Services will include tenancy and homelessness advice, mental health support and medical consultation and treatment.

Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre operations manager, Christian Berechree, said it had been a bumpy road for Comfort Kitchen, with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis making things uncertain.

He said it was time to bring back the dine-in element.

"Comfort Kitchen has always been more than just a meal. It's a place for people to find connection, support and community," Mr Berechree said.

"We're confident now is the time to get this important community meal (service) back up and running as it should be.

"Adding the community services hub into the mix will make this event more crucial than ever before as our region's post-COVID recovery continues."

The community services hub will be a relaxed environment, with no pressure to engage with any of the service providers.

Mr Berechree assured guests they could just come for the meal as they had always done, if that was their preference.

"We want to make the service providers available in a centralised, low-pressure environment for those in our community who need to access them," he said.

"Accessing services can be confronting and confusing and we want to remove those barriers as best we can."

Bookings are not required and Comfort Kitchen will run from 4-6pm every Wednesday evening, starting from April 14.

Sign in will be required for contract tracing purposes.