“If it wasn’t for this place, I would have starved”.
This is what a homeless man told the Mandurah Mail, when we visited the Peel Community Soup Kitchen on Monday.
He said the free meals at the soup kitchen kept him alive when he was recovering from alcohol addiction, and kept him afloat in recent years while studying.
This was one of 15 homeless people who walked through the doors during the half-hour interview.
It was not even “peak-hour”, said Soup Kitchen coordinator Tracey Bain.
“I don’t know what people would do without this place...did you expect it to be so busy?” she said.
Tracey can emphathise with the people who come through the doors, because she was homeless as a teenager in England.
“I was in a situation were I was forced to leave home at 14-years-old,” she said.
The friendships and the interaction between people here is as important as the food.Soup Kitchen chairman and Mandurah City councillor Shane Jones
Tracey said she lived on the streets for about four years, before she joined the army.
“I was kind of lost, surrounded by people who were not good for me,” she said.
“It was horrible. But you get through it, it’s survival. I now know you can pull yourself out of it.”
Tracey said the customers who came through had a range of different backgrounds.
“The majority of people that come here are on low-income, but have lots of different stories,” she said.
Some squatted in vacant houses, others were addicted to drugs or alcohol and some had serious mental health issues.
Others were in and out of permanent accommodation.
“We are their only constant,” she said.
“It’s really sad, when you see how people live...they are just struggling to get by.
“I do not judge them.”
Soup Kitchen chairman and Mandurah City councillor Shane Jones said the facility was “extremely” important and the community had been hugely supportive.
“The friendships and the interaction between people here is as important as the food,” he said.
“We’re a pack animal, and this is their ‘friends and family’ type connection.”
The soup kitchen is open five days a week located on the corner of Gibson Road and Sutton Street in Mandurah.
For more information visit website: www.peelcommunitykitchen.com.au.