24 February 2022

Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare and the local Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub have joined forces to provide people seeking food relief with a range of other essential support services. 

Recognising that people coming to them for food relief often have a range of other difficulties, FoodShare is sharing their office space with team members from the local Hub, which is managed by Mind Australia. Now, when people contact the FoodShare for food relief assistance, they will be asked if they would like to speak to someone from the Mind team, who can assist them with additional support.  

“People experiencing all kinds of situations have asked us for help and sometimes the support required is beyond our scope. We are delighted that this partnership means we can now connect individuals with the other services they need,” FoodShare’s Community Pantry Coordinator Nicole Firth said.

“If people are needing help to put food on the table, they will typically have a lot of other financial and personal issues, which results in increased stress and can impact on their mental health and general wellbeing,” Mind Lead Practitioner at the Wodonga Hub Wayne Jose said. “It’s great that we can be there for them.”

FoodShare Wodonga began their Community Pantry program in 2020 in response to the sudden impact COVID-19 had on the region. It provides food hampers directly to local residents so anyone in need can access quality nutritious food. There was so much demand for this service that the FoodShare Shop opened in November last year with the added flexibility for anyone experiencing financial hardship to select their own grocery items.  

The Wodonga Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub is one of 10 Hubs Mind is operating across Victoria. They are part of a $13.3 million Victorian Government commitment to provide Victorians with easier access to mental health support to address the impacts of the pandemic. The Hubs provide a mix of free face-to-face support, telehealth, mobile outreach and online delivery services, making it easy to access free and immediate support for anyone with mental health or wellbeing concerns.

The Mind support workers will assess a person’s needs, help develop strategies to cope, and provide direct links and pathways to other health and social support services. All their services are free and support is also available for families, friends and carers of people who are experiencing mental health issues.

FoodShare’s General Manager Peter Matthews said, “This collaboration provides access to a greater support network and essential care for those who are continuing to navigate through the impacts of the pandemic.

“This partnership also enhances the resilience of our local communities impacted by hardship, while continuing to encourage good nutrition across the region.”

Mind Australia CEO Gill Callister said, “This partnership between FoodShare and Mind in Wodonga is a first for Victoria and such a good idea, bringing a broader range of services together for people in need. I hope it becomes the first of many.”

Anyone in Victoria with mental health and wellbeing concerns can also access a Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub directly by calling 1300 375 330.