Bathurst Uniting Support Services coordinator receives Rotary award

Bathurst Uniting Support Services coordinator receives Rotary award

On Sunday, 23 June, Julie Fry, Bathurst Uniting Support Services (BUSS) Coordinator, received the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Club of Bathurst-Daybreak. 

Ms Fry, however, was keen to stress that the award was not just for her, telling Insights, “This award isn’t really about me but honours the hard work done by so many volunteers who make BUSS the fantastic organisation that it is today.”  

“I am just the face of the wonderful work they do,” Ms Fry said. 

“We have volunteers from up to six other congregations in town and work with the church welfare organisations such as HopeCare, Vinnes, and Anglicare. We also have a great relationship with the local NSW Health Alcohol and other Drugs team at the hospital. We done a little bit with Kinross Walaroi school when they came to visit and brought food for our SMART lunch one day, and we receive support from Gordon/Pymble Uniting Church.” 

A program of Bathurst Uniting Church, Bathurst Uniting Support Services (BUSS) started in 2018 as a homeless shelter. 

“It was no little thing for the Bathurst Uniting Church congregation to start a homeless shelter in 2018 and it took a lot of faith and courage,” Ms Fry recalled. 

Despite briefly closing during the COVID-19 pandemic, BUSS operates programs and the weekend BUSS Café for people who are homeless, poor, and socially isolated. 
 
“Our aim is to improve the lives of our participants; helping them to make connections to community and each other and assisting and supporting them to make better and more informed, responsible choices,” Ms Fry said. 
 
“In the addictions space the wisdom is that connection is vital to recovery, so this is the focus of all our programs.” 

“We have been delighted to see results in the lives of some of our people who become very engaged, then step up to run programs, teach others and give back. Our Cafe Cooking days are a great example of this. The best of those who come to the Frypan Warriors program are invited to Cafe Cooking days once a month, to make meals for the weekend soup kitchen, the BUSS Cafe.” 

“Since 2018 we have grown steadily and now have programs almost every day.” 
 
“Due to a small grant from the Office of Responsible Gambling we are now able to employ an Assistant Coordinator 15 hours per week which has eased the burden on the organising volunteers.” 

“This year particularly we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of those attending. Most of our programs have seen a 50 percent increase in those attending, especially those that provide food or teach people to cook.” 

“We have not forgotten our concern for those experiencing homelessness. The Housing situation in Bathurst is extremely dire (as it is elsewhere) and there is just no affordable housing available, so we are giving out about one camping kit a week to those who are sleeping rough.” 
 
“It’s not a great solution for people, especially as most of the winter our overnight temperatures are well below zero. We have a shower that is open every day with towels and toiletries, and we provide laundry vouchers if needed.” 

“We are very blessed that the town of Bathurst has given us fantastic support since the beginning and we have over 60 volunteers helping to run the programs and wonderful donations from many of the service clubs in the town.” 
 
“Over the last five years the Congregation have not wavered in their support for BUSS and all those that are helped by the program.” 
 
“Many of the congregational members are very involved with cooking meals, volunteering with programs, praying for us and making financial donations. I believe a program like this is so much stronger because it is part of a congregational response to needs in our community, and it remains a significant part of our church mission.” 

For more information on Bathurst Uniting Support Services, visit their Facebook page. 

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