The simple act of buying a coffee can help support homeless services this week.
Community members can donate to assist the city's homeless population when purchasing a coffee from select cafes this week, while cafes will donate $1 from each coffee sold on Friday to a local charity.
The CaféSmart initiative is being run throughout National Homelessness Week (August 2-8), with more than 300 cafes participating across Australia. Three cafes participating in Ballarat are Webster's Market and Cafe, Cobbs Coffee and Maggie and Kate in Buninyong.
Geoff Hills, chief executive of StreetSmart Australia, said the initiative provided a quick and easy opportunity for customers to provide crucial support to vulnerable people in their area, while also supporting businesses.
"It's a win-win," he said.
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Funds raised are kept local, meaning cafes are directly supporting the homeless services in their region to help vulnerable people in their neighbourhoods.
In the past, charities supported in this region have included Eureka Mums.
Webster's Cafe has been participating in the initiative since 2016.
Owner Jane Meneses said it was a really great initiative as all funds raised were injected back into the Ballarat community.
"I think a great deal of people have experienced a touch of uncertainty or financial stress that they have never experienced before, so it's more relatable this year.
It's a win for everybody.- Jane Meneses
"It's a win for everybody. It's a win for us because people come in but anybody who buys a coffee can also feel like they've done their bit."
Bringing together businesses and coffee drinkers, CafeSmart has raised and distributed more than $1.5 million to more than 1,000 projects during the last ten years. Of this, Ballarat cafes have raised more than $6,500.
The pandemic has highlighted the critical role in supporting the charities that provide support to some of the most disadvantaged Australians.
While COVID-19 made life more difficult for already-vulnerable Australians, it has also put others into vulnerable positions for the first time. This means more people have been seeking support from charities for the first time during the last 18 months, leaving some organisations overwhelmed.
According to the 2020 Foodbank Hunger Report, the pandemic led to a doubling in emergency food relief demand, with 31% of Australians experiencing food insecurity seeking food relief at least once a week in 2020. Almost a third of the people experiencing food insecurity had never experienced it prior to the pandemic. Yet despite 71 per cent of charities reporting an increase in demand, 86 per cent reported a reduction in revenue.
Donations raised provide urgent funds to homeless charities that often receive little public funding to support their work. These services offer a range of supports: from medical services to clothes and essentials, hot meals and a safe place to sleep.
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