About Us

St Benedict’s Community Centre provides a place for people in our community to come for friendship, advocacy, support and a meal. St Benedict’s service is a co-operative initiative delivered jointly by Queanbeyan’s Anglican Church, Baptist Church, Uniting Church, Catholic Church, and Celebration Community.

St Benedict’s is highly regarded in the community and has provided free meals to those in need in Queanbeyan and region for over 15 years. Over this time the service has evolved into the provision of emergency relief services (including food parcels, brokerage, and advocacy) as well the provision of accommodation for homeless people.

Inspired by the life and witness of Jesus, St Benedict’s seeks to create a safe and welcoming place where the dignity of each guest and volunteer is respected, celebrated and nurtured through friendship and loving service.

St Benedict’s Vision, Mission, Principles and Values

Our Vision is:

That our community has a plentiful supply of housing, access to education (primary, secondary and tertiary), an abundance of nutritional food available without being demeaned, opportunities to work and participate in our community and access to health services (medical, mental etc.).

Our Mission is:

A local caring community where all are welcome in the spirit of Christ and are offered practical support and respectful relationships to change lives.

Our Principles are:

  • Creating a caring and accepting place for all.

  • Filling the gaps through timely, flexible and creative responses tailored for the context.

  • Connecting people and resources and providers with purpose.

  • Building and sharing trust for mutual benefit.

  • Giving generously, and receiving with grace, what we offer each other.

  • Walking with each other to find a way through.

Our Values are:

  • Justice

  • Meekness

  • Empowerment

  • Love

  • Healing

  • Equity

  • Hope

  • Giving

  • Forgiveness

What does St Benedict’s do ?

St Benedict’s occupies a purpose build social services centre in Queanbeyan which it shares with HOME in Queanbeyan (a housing service for people with low to moderate mental health issues) and Karabar Housing Cooperative. The centre has meeting and training rooms, a dining room, commercial kitchen, and internet access. In addition to the provision of emergency relief this facility provides opportunities for marginalised people who may be at risk of homelessness to build social support and friendship networks in a safe and friendly environment. It also enables St Benedict’s to provide some skills training, work experience and mentoring for clients and others to enable them to increase their employability and obtain an employer reference.

St Benedict’s provides a free nutritious meal 5 days a week in a large and comfortable dining area with a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. Because St Benedict’s provides meals it has become a focal point in Queanbeyan for people who are in crisis, or need accommodation, which in turn means it is ideally placed to intervene early in poor situations and stabilise them. St Benedict’s approach is to provide support to enable people to stabilise their lives and become self-reliant or to transition to ongoing support.

St Benedict’s has long been recognised as the “service of last resort” in the Queanbeyan region because no-one is turned away. St Benedict’s staff are skilled at assembling an immediate response for people in crisis, be it, accommodation, food parcels, household items, paying bills, cash or referrals, with the objective of keeping them safe and sustaining them until a permanent solution can be found.

St Benedict’s service delivery model connects people to services that support them back into the community, the workforce and to health care so they can decrease, or move permanently away from, on-going dependence on welfare. St Benedict’s practice is to work with its clients and other agencies to support them until a sustainable solution is found. St Benedict’s will know that it has achieved its desired outcomes because the client will no longer require its help because they will have transitioned to another agency or be living in sustainable accommodation.

St Benedict’s Charter

A local caring community where all are welcome in the spirit of Christ and are offered practical support and respectful relationships to change lives.

To be part of this community we commit, together with you, to:

  • Work to make sure you receive the best possible assistance to:

    • Establish and maintain a home.

    • Participate in a meaningful way in the community, learning, working and sharing life together.

  • Work in a manner that dignifies and respects each member of this community in their uniqueness and differences, embracing the diversity implied by gender, religious, cultural, or linguistic backgrounds, sexual orientation, age, disability or family status, etc.

  • Respect personal privacy and confidentiality.

As an inclusive and welcoming community, we:

  • Will work with you in seamless and wholistic manner to determine your needs. This could include case management, planning and grounded practical interventions in a way that suits you.

  • Match available resources from St Benedict’s and other existing services to your needs. We work to overcome the barriers and gaps that are encountered in your life to bring about transformation and change.

  • Encourage active participation in decisions that affect you individually and that affect the operation of St Benedict’s.

  • Expect honest and accurate information that lead to open, trusting and effective relationships. This will help achieve the outcomes you need.

  • Encourage feedback/complaints when things don’t work well; and insight into your experience when things go well. All feedback will be used to improve our relationships, our way of working, and the outcomes you desire.

St Benedict’s is a safe place for everyone. To make this happen, we:

  • Ensure safety and health regulations are met.

  • Respect each other in word and deed.

    • Use kind words and actions that promote acceptance, hope and welcome.

    • All are welcome and included, however behaviour that affects the safety and well-being of others (guests, volunteers and staff) can sometimes lead to exclusion for a period of time. After this, you can choose to be welcomed back.

  • Respect the rules.

St Benedict’s Strategic Plan

1. Philosophy and Culture – What we are about

We aim to provide a healthy community place where our guests are supported and empowered to achieve independence.

Our priorities are to:

  • Identify and understand our guest’s needs.

  • Offer services that are effective, accessible and professional.

  • Remain faithful to our values.

2. Painting the Picture – Vision of where we are going

We aim to identify and communicate guest needs to our partners and deliver food, shelter, advocacy and community services to meet the needs of those guests.

Our priorities are to:

  • Maintain flexible work practices that respond to changing guest needs.

  • Coordinate our services with those of our partners.

  • Operate to our capacity delivering quality outcomes.

  • Enrich the lives of those involved with St Benedict’s Community Centre.

3. Stakeholders – Our relationships

We aim to maintain positive, constructive relationships with our partners and guests to optimise coordination and address service demands.

Our priorities are to:

  • Maintain positive working relationships with our stakeholder networks.

  • Establish partnership agreements where appropriate.

  • Explore opportunities for new partnerships.

  • Coordinate with our partners to respond to guest needs.

  • Enhance relationships through regular meetings between the Coordinator of St Benedict’s Community Centre and the Manager of HOME in Queanbeyan.

  • Foster close relationships between St Benedict’s and Government and non-Government organisations working to support homeless and disadvantaged people in our community.

  • Ensure a strong reputation, role and brand in the community, local businesses and services sector.

4. Capacity – A sustainable business model

We aim to maintain our existing range of services while deepening our capacity to comprehensively address guest needs.

Our priorities are to:

  • Achieve financial sustainability by increasing the number, value and diversity of funding sources and their reliability.

  • Secure pre-commitments from our supporters.

  • Exercise prudence in the use of financial resources.

  • Build the skills and capacity of our staff and volunteers.

  • Improve our recruitment, induction and training processes.

  • Secure volunteer commitment through increased numbers and improved engagement and rostering arrangements.

5. Governance – Sound, compliant business processes

We aim to implement sound business processes to effectively and efficiently manage our assets, operations, staff and volunteers, risks and finances to legislative, regulatory and community standards.

Our priorities are to:

  • Ensure Board membership and consultancies reflect expertise required.

  • Establish and implement a policy and procedural framework.

  • Improve workplace procedures and practices.

  • Develop and implement an improved WHS system.

  • Implement risk treatments identified in the risk management plan.

  • Implement sound financial, records and administrative practices.

  • Achieve financial reporting compliance through an annual external audit of accounts.

  • Achieve compliance with NSW Department of Family and Community Services grant conditions and audit requirements.

  • Present accurate financial accounts to the Board each month.

  • Ensure our insurances are appropriate and current.

6. Services – How we help others

We aim to provide a range of services that collectively meet the needs of our guests while tailoring those services to meet the individual needs of each guest.

Our priorities are to:

  • Provide tailored services to more than 500 guests each year.

  • Improve the levels of pro-bono professional support available to guests

  • Ensure an abundance of nutritional food for guests.

  • Provide basic personal needs to guests such as food, showering and laundry.

  • Assist a high percentage of guests in need to find suitable housing.

  • Provide access to education services at levels appropriate to the guest.

  • Provide access to health services to meet guest needs.

  • Provide opportunities for volunteers and guests to work and participate in our community.

Who are St Benedict’s clients and what are their needs ?

While much of Queanbeyan and surrounding areas rank as advantaged there are significant pockets of poverty. St Benedict’s assists people who:

  • are homeless or at risk of homelessness;

  • have mental health issues and/or are substance dependent;

  • are on low incomes who are struggling with the cost of living and need assistance with rent, electricity, gas, and telephone bills, medical expenses and food;

  • have low levels of formal education who may find it difficult to, and need assistance with, accessing services.

What has St Benedict’s achieved to date ?

In FY 2018-19 St Benedict’s and its partners delivered:

  • 14,391 hot meals and 3,082 food parcels

  • 4,302 bed nights in short-term or emergency accommodation and 1,117 bed nights of long term accommodation

How much do St Benedict’s services cost to provide ?

St Benedict’s has over 60 active volunteers in its kitchen and is also supported by the provision of surplus food from local food rescue services This means that the vast majority of donations are directed to assisting clients in the form of accommodation, food parcels, and other needs.

St Benedict’s is highly efficient. In FY 2018-19 it spent approximately $11,000 directly purchasing food which it leveraged into 14,391 highly nutritious meals with a “street” value of approximately $216,000.

Extract from 2018-19 Annual Report

As is the nature of St Benedict’s Community Centre, staff and volunteers have responded to changing needs of the local community, revealing the need people have for stable accommodation, access to nutritious food, and connection to others who care.

Funding

Our activities have been funded by government, community organisations and donations from the local community. We acknowledge the following sources:

  • The NSW Government Specialist Homelessness Services Program (Sector Support Fund) is our main funding body.

  • Donations from the wider community has allowed us to provide material assistance to people such as purchasing microwaves, medications, and transport to get to secure accommodation or health services.

  • ClubGrants provided money for us to run the kitchen to provide meals and other food services.

Partners

A cornerstone service is the provision of nourishing food to our guests, including lunch five days per week. This includes food donated from SecondBite (Coles) and OzHarvest. Orange Sky Laundry sets up outside St Benedict’s Community Centre twice a week and provides laundry services and good conversations.

Finding and keeping safe and affordable accommodation is a challenge for most of our guests. St Benedict’s shares premises with HOME in Queanbeyan. HOME provides long term accommodation for people with mental illness. We also share an office with the Karabar Housing Cooperative, which has allowed us to refer guests into long term community housing. There has also been the opportunity to help support other Karabar Housing Tenants in accessing Centrelink services, legal services, food and opportunities to volunteer.

In addition to the support provided by the churches in the Queanbeyan community, the Celebration Community (part of the Anglican Church community) has a leading role in St Benedict’s provision of homelessness support and complex case management.

Safe Shelter ran through the winter months in Canberra and Queanbeyan. The aim of these organisations is to provide access to church hall floors for guests to sleep, accompanied by volunteers who ensure the venue remains a safe place for all. The Canberra shelter only accepts single men, but Queanbeyan opened its doors to single women. On those nights when women were needing the Queanbeyan Service, staff and volunteers would take single men across to the Canberra venues in the evening, and where necessary pick them up in the morning to return to access services in NSW. This provided warmth and comfort, especially to those guests who do not qualify for temporary accommodation within the NSW Housing system.

We work closely with the Queanbeyan office of the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) and with the local Centrelink office. Strong and positive cooperation enables us to provide our clients with advocacy and help them to access benefits and entitlements.

Highlights

St Benedict’s is a participant in the FACS Outcomes Based Commissioning Pilot Project. From the beginning of February, staff were testing ways of measuring guest well-being, and measuring progress of guest goals in securing housing, feeling safe and connected to a community, and securing employment and education. This project will run until the end of July, with feedback going to FACS.

In March and April St Benedict’s participated in client survey run by Homelessness NSW. 29 guests completed the survey, which showed a high satisfaction rate for services provided. Most of the frustrations from guests was not being able to secure accommodation, an issue that is common across services in this region.

In June, one of our volunteers who works in NSW Health organised free flu vaccines for our guests. Over 30 people participated.

Food distribution started at “Annie’s” (a centre provided by Celebration Community. This has shifted the large food delivery from OzHarvest to where there is a cool room. Over 40 people come to help unload the delivery and share in the rescued food.

Extra food for families with children under 15 has been provided by OneBox. 20 families each week during school terms have received a box of fruit and vegetables and 2 litres of milk. This has contributed to these families eating healthier.

An exciting opportunity is developing in Queanbeyan for the implementation of a Sleep Bus. St Benedict’s as part of Q-HAC (Queanbeyan Housing Action Collective) has started the initiative to bring a SleepBus to Queanbeyan. This will hopefully give people a safe alternative to sleeping rough.

Volunteers

Volunteers are a valued part of the community outreach of St Benedict’s. Making guests feel welcome, giving them hope and encouragement and reducing social isolation are just some of the benefits from our volunteers. Volunteers cook and serve lunch and help keep our amenities in good order. They also contribute company, and friendship. Volunteers provide administrative support to increase the effectiveness of paid staff.

Volunteers can be individuals or church, school and social groups who give their time. All are very welcome. We also have guests who give back by volunteering their services where appropriate.

Staff

The Board is very grateful to the staff for their care and commitment to the work of St Benedict’s. Like most community organisations, our staff show every day that this is not ‘just a job’. Casual staff have been welcomed to the team, and most volunteer regularly throughout the year.

Board

We have been blessed with a very active although small board.

Community

Reflecting connectedness to our local community, there are many generous donations of cash, foodstuffs and all kinds of practical items from community members. Be assured that all donations are valued and passed on to people who need the support

Future Plans

  • Moving towards ASES accreditation will be a big focus in the next 12 months.

  • Collaborating with other homelessness services to bring a SleepBus to Queanbeyan in 2020.