Offenders on Community Correction Orders (CCO) are giving back to the Bendigo community under a new program designed to boost employment and training skills.
Launched by Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards, the Fork in the Road hub is a multi-purpose community facility supporting local residents to achieve their full potential.
Under the program, offenders take on hospitality training and ‘prepare and plate’ healthy meal packs distributed by volunteers from the State Trustees Office on behalf of Bendigo Community Health Services.
The meal packs are provided to people who are homeless or experiencing a food shortage who attend a weekly soup kitchen operating at the hub.
Fourteen offenders serving CCOs with a community work requirement have attended at the hub for up to two days per week since November 2018.
Offenders are supervised by staff from Bendigo Community Correctional Services, and are also linked with the local Jobs Victoria Employment Network to further build their employment skills.
Additionally, the hub features shower and laundry amenities for disadvantaged clients receiving assistance from Bendigo Community Health Services.
Community groups also use the hub space by arrangement to hold meetings and deliver programs.
The hub is a culmination of a government-community partnership worth more than $100,000, including a $25,000 grant from the Department of Justice and Community Safety.
A range of local businesses have also supported the hub by providing donated foodstuffs, plumbing, benchtops, tables and chairs, television and whitegoods, as well as repairs to existing window furnishings.
The Andrews Trust has funded the building lease for the next three years as part of its grants program, and students from the Bendigo South East College are also running market stalls to help raise funds for the hub’s ongoing sustainability.
Quotes attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards
“I’m thrilled to officially launch the Fork in the Road hub at Bendigo, which provides offenders with a chance to give back to the local community and get back on their feet.”
“I thank all the local businesses and community groups who have partnered with us on this important project and look forward to seeing the hub expand its services and programs in the future.”