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New Brisbane city Vinnies will be a ‘place of mercy and hope’

Vinnies Brisbane city

Charitable works: Vinnies retail manager Mandy Kaye, Brisbane centre of charity manager Emily Jones, and Northgate and Eagle Junction retail centre co-ordinator Barbara Grondin at the official blessing of the new Vinnies store on Mary Street, Brisbane. Photo: Emilie Ng

CITY dwellers experiencing poverty, loneliness and isolation can turn to a new “centre of charity” that will provide free high-quality emergency goods to people in need.

St Vincent de Paul Society opened its new retail shop, better known as a “centre of charity”, on Mary Street in Brisbane’s CBD last month.

It is the first Vinnies op shop to open in Brisbane city since 2009 and is expected to help a growing number of people seeking vital assistance in the area.

Vinnies’ retail opportunity manager for the Brisbane archdiocese Mandy Kaye said it was not just suburbia that needed access to low-cost clothing or goods and assistance.

“There was no store in the city to actually be able to offer assistance to our clients that need help,” Ms Kaye said.

“Now they have the opportunity to be referred to one of the local conferences and be given the gift cards and they can come into the store and be given goods at no cost to the client.

“And that is something that’s very important to us in retail, is being able to not only make money to support those in need, but to be able to offer that assistance in terms of low-cost goods and items that they need for emergencies.”

Cathedral dean Fr David Pascoe officially blessed the store at a Liturgy of the Word on November 30, and reflected on a jobless man who would benefit from the store.

About six weeks ago, a man who had sought assistance from the staff at St Stephen’s Cathedral turned up “shaved and showered, dressed in nice clothes” and reported that he had found a job.

Two weeks later Fr Pascoe found him on the cathedral grounds “overdosed with his wrists slashed”.

Fr Pascoe called for an ambulance and the man was taken to hospital.

“Two weeks after that he was back again, saying thank you,” he said. “He didn’t have a job at this time (but) he was showered and shaved and was standing in clean clothes.”

Fr Pascoe said the new op shop in Mary Street would be a place “of mercy and charity” for people like the desperate man who turned up at the cathedral door.

“We give thanks to God today for the ability to be neighbour, to be like the Samaritan who picks people up and cares for them,” he said.

“Give thanks to those who support places like this, thanks to those who work here and make it possible, and indeed we ask God’s blessing on us and this place for a long time to come.”

Vinnies state president John Forrest had “high hopes” for the new Brisbane store.

He said the revenue from the store would enable the surrounding society conferences to serve the city’s poor, including the homeless and isolated families or individuals.

“Helping those in need is one of the great drives in my life,” he said at the shop blessing.

“The number of lonely and isolated people in the society in the city is growing.

“So obviously the works of the society in the city is going to grow and the conference that services the city precinct will grow.

“We need to see the face of Christ in those that we serve, for whatever reason we’re engaged in as a society.

“That’s the driver that needs to underpin our efforts.”

Vinnies Queensland has about 130 centres of charity, and all proceeds from these stores go directly to people in need.

The society helped more than 260,000 Queenslanders providing more than $28 million worth of assistance.

Ms Kaye said the new Brisbane store, located at 73 Mary Street, Brisbane, was in need of good-quality donations of shoes and clothing and were happy to take on more volunteers.

The shop is open weekdays from 9.30am to 5.30pm and Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

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