Good karma for Anglesea’s Lorna
LORNA Botham’s involvement in Anglesea Community House’s (ACH) Foodlink service has never been out of self-interest.
Having dedicated 20 years of her life to helping the community’s vulnerable feed their families, Ms Botham said the volunteer-driven initiative is actually older than the organisation itself.
This week (May 18-24) is National Volunteer Week, which acknowledges and generous contribution of our nations volunteers and the positive impacts they have within our community.
Ms Botham said Foodlink in its present form started in about 1990.
“But before that it was run as a help to people, especially young mums who were coming home from hospital with babies. We used to make casseroles for them to have something to come home to and it was run by the combined churches.”
Ms Botham was the first representative from ACH to sit on Foodlink’s committee. She’s been the service’s assessor for 19 years, and treasurer for 12.
“I enjoy talking to the clients, and just being involved. The people on the committee are really nice people, and Anglesea is such a small town; everybody knows everybody.”
Ms Botham said it was important to acknowledge that it’s not easy for people to put their hand up and ask for help, and that the service kept the personal information of its clients confidential.
She said what she enjoyed most about volunteering was playing a small part in steering people onto a new path.
“It takes a lot of gumption to come and ask for help and usually they’re at the end of their tether by the time we see them. Being a small town, you’re frightened someone will find out about it. The thing that we press with all our clients is it’s confidential; the only people who know are the people at Foodlink.”
She said throughout her time volunteering, she has seen people living in some startling conditions, but emphasised many of those who used the service were the first to give back once they had turned their situation around.
“I’d say 99 per cent of the people who come to us have come to us with almost nothing because they’ve been hanging out, waiting for something to happen for them and it hasn’t. Their money is gone, often their housing is gone; some of them are almost destitute. We’ve had people living out of their cars, and a couple in the past 12 months.
“But I’ve seen people who have been on Foodlink 20-odd years ago who were really having a lot of problems and are now happy people living within the community. They give back wonderfully, too. What goes around comes around.”
Ms Botham said Foodlink was still operating throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and that a team of about 11 were delivering non-perishable goods and sanitary supplies such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes to clients.
She said Foodlink was also supported by IGA Anglesea (where it has a drop-off point), Anglesea Fruitz Provedore, Seaside Seconds OpShop, the Anglesea Lions Club, the Anglesea Lioness Club and the Anglesea resale shed.
“We’re not funded by the government but a lot of people give us money out of the goodness of their hearts. People have set up little organisations to help people during this time, and those things will go away after the virus has gone away, but we won’t. We’ll be keeping on.”