Call to arms for Bendigo's Our Place

THE Reverend Tracey Wolsley is calling on the Bendigo community to help cement the future of Our Place.

Ms Wolsley said there had been an outpouring of public support for the Eaglehawk centre since last week’s announcement that funding had dried up.

“It would be great if we could get the community behind us,” Ms Wolsley said.

“We’re looking at maybe developing a community committee to look at how we might raise some funds to ensure we stay open.

“There are more than 100,000 people living in Bendigo, so if everyone gave $1 that would ensure we’re open for a year.”

Anglican Bishop Andrew Curnow told volunteers last week Our Place would not operate in its current format from mid-December.

In a letter printed in the Bendigo Advertiser on Saturday, Bishop Curnow said it was anticipated Our Place would reopen.

“It is having a break at Christmas and into the new year to give volunteers and staff a well-earned rest, but there is every intention to see Our Place reopen in the new year,” he wrote. 

Ms Wolsley said about 50 or 60 people visited Our Place every day, with some people popping in for a cuppa and chat a few times a week.

“Everyone is like family here,” she said. “So it will be a big hole in a lot of people’s lives... it’s a big blow for people in our community.

All of a sudden to not have this space for them will be quite hard, so we keep trying to reassure them that we’re really just closing early December and will hopefully be reopening in February.

“At this stage it looks like it will be reduced hours but hopefully we’ll still be able to provide the same services.”

Ms Wolsley said that when the news broke last week, people were disappointed and upset.

“There are also people who are angry there’s no funding,” she said.

“Once of the greatest needs Our Place fulfils is serving as a place of connection and place of belonging.

“It has become, for many people, a major support network.”

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