NorthWay Uniting Church – Supporting the Tranby Engagement Hub

Helen Nish coordinates NorthWay’s partnership with the Tranby Engagement Hub and spoke to me about the story of the congregation’s involvement with the Hub, and what it means to them to have this opportunity to provide practical help to those in need.

In recent years members of the congregation had growing concerns about the homelessness situation in and around Joondalup. Helen recalls feeling as though God lay this situation on her heart, as she was feeling troubled for some time about seeing homeless people in places where she hadn’t seen them before, in and around her community. Initially her first response was to try to provide food for them from the church kitchen in a mobile operation. However, upon investigating the idea further as a church council, they realised there were a lot of regulations and protocols to meet for the City of Joondalup regarding health standards when producing food from the church kitchen.

After meeting with the Mission and Service Team to discuss possible solutions, they decided to invite Annette Boyle, who at the time was the Manager of Community Engagement with Uniting WA, to come to NorthWay and meet with them, which she did in March 2023. Annette spoke to them about the Tranby Engagement Hub in the city run by Uniting WA and of the need for volunteers, as their numbers had dropped significantly since the Covid19 pandemic. From that meeting they decided to develop a plan of support for the Hub through volunteering, and through a variety of donations. The two Uniting WA CEO’s Jen Park and Micheal Chester, along with Annette came to a church service one Sunday morning in July to speak to the whole congregation further about Uniting WA’s mission and ministry which helped the congregation understand the services required to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Following the decision of the church council to support this direction for the congregation, about 15 people from the church signed up for the induction process. The induction involved an online training course and an in-person training experience. Along with the group from the church, one of the volunteers who works in the corporate space encouraged his workers to be involved in volunteering for the Hub too as part of their community service. Some people, many of whom are retired, volunteer in regular weekly shifts, while others who have work commitments will regularly volunteer on the weekends.

In addition to volunteering, the Mission and Service Team have organised a variety of fundraising activities such as morning teas, raising $1200 for tea, coffee and sugar needs at the Hub. They also have people in the community involved in a Caring Hands group at the church who knit beanies and blankets to donate. As the need arises the church has also purchased sleeping bags, toiletries, socks etc, along with collecting pre-owned towels in good condition.

Through the time the partnership has been running there continues to be around 15 volunteers involved from the congregation taking regular shifts at the Hub. They are aware that the need for volunteers is great and continuing. As winter approaches they plan to run another drive for sleeping bags and blankets, as well as other winter items.

When asked about the positive outcomes so far for the NorthWay congregation, Helen feels the church as a whole has valued the part they are able to play in reaching out to the most vulnerable in the community.

“Sonny Rajamoney, our Minister, often challenges us on putting our faith into action and actually living out the Gospel, for ‘faith without works’ is meaningless. The demographic of our church is that most people are retired and yet there are people in their 80’s even who volunteer in person which speaks for itself in terms of our commitment to doing God’s work where we can. It is not always easy to see such vulnerability but the good that comes from doing this work – ‘seeing’ these people as they need to be seen and valued is what makes it so rewarding.”

Helen Nish, NorthWay Uniting Church

Thank you to Helen and Mark and the congregation at NorthWay Uniting Church for sharing this aspect of your ministry with us. If you would like to know more about the work of Uniting WA, and ways of supporting the Tranby Engagement Hub go to volunteer/

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