The Verandah is a community centre jointly operated by St Paul’s with Canberra Baptist Church and Wesley Uniting Church in the Stuart Flats, Griffith. The Stuart Flats is an ACT Housing complex comprising 146 housing units, adjacent to St Paul’s Church.
The Verandah is one of the most significant outreach projects of our parish. It is a ministry providing hospitality and welfare, operating three times a week. It acts as a community centre and safe space aiming to foster community. People drop in for coffee, tea, snacks and a chat. Bread, emergency food parcels and clothing are also available.
Even though the ACT has the highest average income of any state or territory, there are groups of people who are significantly disadvantaged and in need of assistance. In 1994, with the aim of easing these problems, ACT Housing approached the Canberra Baptist Church to ask if they would be prepared to set up a community room at the Stuart Flats. A ground floor flat was made available for this purpose.
The Canberra Baptist Church sought the assistance of other churches in the area to join them in what has become a long and successful ecumenical activity.
People from St Paul’s support the Verandah in a number of different ways: through volunteering their time on the rosters, by donating food and through financial support to purchase basic food supplies.
Are there opportunities to be a volunteer?
The Verandah opens over lunch time, currently from 12 to 1.00pm on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. The St Paul’s rosters cover the first and fourth Sunday of each month, the third and fifth Tuesday and the third Friday of each month. The rostered volunteers try to encourage clients to stay for a chat over tea or coffee, usually providing sandwiches and in winter, hot soup. Basic, non-perishable food, donated by each church, is also distributed to clients, during this time.
Bread is donated by some local bakeries. Evening rosters for the collection and packaging of bread for distribution the next day are arranged by our volunteers.
In the last few years we have been fortunate to have the services of the The Yellow Van Food Rescue, previously known as Oz Harvest, an organisation that distributes a variety of fresh surplus food. This can include fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meat, eggs, and dairy produce.
The Verandah also has a room stocked with a small range of donated clothing and shoes available to clients.
Clients come from other ACT Housing complexes in the Manuka area – from Gowrie Court, Throsby Court, and the Narrabundah, Red Hill and Griffith Flats as well as from the Stuart Flats and from several houses in the locality.
Regularly there are about 50 clients each week. These include single men and women, women with young children and surprisingly, teenagers who need support. Hundreds of people have walked through the door seeking help or food, support, a friendly word or a cup of tea or coffee.
Monetary assistance and volunteers are always needed. If you are interested and would like to join other parishioners in volunteering or would like more information, please email our St Paul’s Convenor, email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.