Team building that gives back to homelessness.

This Hearts and Minds article was published in Business News.
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Uniting WA has designed a new team-building initiative called Recipe for Change, which gives Perth businesses a chance to offer their employees a deeper appreciation of the struggles of those experiencing homelessness.

As part of the day, participants embark on a hands-on cooking challenge, working together to create nutritious meals for Uniting’s WA’s Tranby homelessness crisis hub, using ingredients sourced entirely from food donations. 

TOKN Technology took part in a Recipe for Change Day at Uniting WA.

Uniting WA’s Tranby Engagement Hub, Perth’s only homelessness crisis centre that’s open 365 days a year all year round, has marked a considerable increase in demand for its homelessness services.

“In 2009, Tranby supported between 80 to 90 people a day and these numbers have increased gradually over the years. In the past year, the number of presentations of people asking for assistance at Tranby each day is now around the 250 to 350 mark,” Uniting WA Co-CEO Michael Chester said.

The team-building initiative, called Recipe for Change, gives Perth businesses a chance to engage employees in a way that fosters empathy, compassion and a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness.

Recipe for Change kicks off at Tranby where teams embark on a journey of discovery and understanding, guided by educational and interactive components that delve into the complex web of factors that contribute to homelessness.

After gaining a deeper appreciation for the struggles faced by those experiencing homelessness, participants embark on a hands-on cooking challenge, working together to create nutritious meals for Tranby’s service users using ingredients sourced entirely from food donations.

The collaborative endeavour not only strengthens teamwork and communication but also allows individuals to make a tangible difference in the lives of others.

“Recipe for Change isn’t just about fostering connections and camaraderie; it’s also about challenging our inherent assumptions about homelessness,” Mr Chester said.

The program offers participants valuable insights that educate and challenge any preconceived notions about homelessness, revealing the intricate interplay of factors that often lead to this challenging situation, including mental health issues, domestic violence, job loss, and a lack of affordable housing.

Demand for the homelessness service at Tranby continues to increase, with individuals accessing the hub presenting with more complex needs and trauma than ever before.

“In the past, Tranby was primarily accessed by people who were chronically ‘street present’, meaning they have been living on the streets for a while,” Uniting WA Co-CEO Jen Park said.

“But nowadays, what we are seeing more and more at Tranby is we are increasingly people who are newly homeless. Maybe a few months ago, they were still managing to pay their bills and afford food but now something has tipped them over and they no longer have a place to stay. Many are living out of cars or pitching tents.”

In March 2023, the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census data showed a substantial increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness or sleeping rough.

Western Australia has the highest percentage of people who are sleeping rough across the nation, at 23.8 per cent. It’s estimated there are around 9,000 people in WA who are homeless.

Through Recipe for Change, Uniting WA hopes to cultivate a deeper understanding of homelessness in Perth while shining a light on the resilience and determination of those experiencing it who are striving to overcome challenges despite limited resources and support.

“Recipe for Change is not just a transformative experience for participants, it’s a pivotal one for ensuring Uniting WA’s continued impact on the lives of those experiencing homelessness,” Ms Park said.

“The initiative embodies the essence of wholehearted gift giving, inviting individuals and businesses to step into the shoes of others, fostering empathy, compassion, and a renewed commitment to making a positive impact on the world around them.”

Uniting WA is a community services organisation that supports people experiencing complex challenges as a result of situational crisis or intergenerational trauma. The organisation walks alongside people in need of help every step of the way so they get the understanding and support they need to move forward.

The organisation helps people who are experiencing domestic violence, financial hardship or homelessness, as well as those living with mental illness or disability, and also supports children experiencing vulnerability and families at risk of breakdown.

New service users of Uniting WA’s Tranby hub require a higher level of engagement from Tranby support workers to help them with transitional accommodation, financial counselling, mental health or other services including domestic violence support.