VOLUNTEERS are responding whole-heartedly to a new partnership that will give Brisbane’s homeless free food and employment training as early as January.
Several people have been in contact with The Catholic Leader after reading last week’s front-page story on former homeless man Grant Richards and food factory manager Winston Cheng, who are planning a new charitable venture next year.
The venture will include projects to feed the homeless for free and provide training for stable employment.
The initiative started just days after Mr Cheng read about Mr Richards’ personal story of being homeless for 18 months published in The Catholic Leader on November 22.
They met for the first time when Mr Cheng delivered 14 boxes of ready-to-eat meals to a barbecue for the homeless on Sunday, November 29.
Mr Richards, who was named Community Leader of the Year for The Community Leader Awards in November, and Mr Cheng met with interested helpers last week to discuss possible ways of helping those in need.
Mr Richards said the response from the partnership story and his win at The Community Leader Awards was inspiring new projects he had never dreamed of organising.
“In the past seven or eight years, I’ve helped a lot of homeless people with these barbecues, but because of The Catholic Leader story and the awards, I’m looking a tripling those numbers,” he said.
Mr Richards said a potential project would be giving homeless people in search of work a “makeover” and employment in a dry-cleaning pick-up service.
“He or she picks up dry cleaning in a bag, carries it, puts it on a trolley and moves to the next one, about 20 at a time,” he said.
A Brisbane dry-cleaning company has already expressed an interest in supporting the project, and will even provide wages for the homeless.
“They are not charging more than if (business people) walked to the dry-cleaning service themselves,” Mr Richards said.
Dry-cleaning services are just one of the ways local businesses are willing to pitch in to help the homeless.
Mr Cheng said he had already received interest from a cattle farmer in Kingaroy willing to give meat supplies to feed the homeless.
“There are people out there who want to give, they just don’t know who to yet,” he said.
Mr Cheng said around three or four boxes of food was untouched at the November 29 barbecue, but the food didn’t go to waste.
“My chefs brought the boxes to a mosque in Morooka to give to struggling families in the area,” he said.
By Emilie Ng