A feed for those in need

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Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
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Centacare Kimberley chief executive Michael King, Roman Catholic Diocese of Broome Brother Peter, Centacare worker Brad Scott, volunteers Kiara Spain, Bronte Berenger and Broome resident Rodney Wiggan at the breakfast program.
Camera IconCentacare Kimberley chief executive Michael King, Roman Catholic Diocese of Broome Brother Peter, Centacare worker Brad Scott, volunteers Kiara Spain, Bronte Berenger and Broome resident Rodney Wiggan at the breakfast program. Credit: Broome Advertiser/Picture: Jakeb Waddell, Jakeb Waddell.

The WA holiday mecca of Broome has it all — sun, beaches and stunning scenery — but the town has a dark secret.

Up to 200 struggling residents in the town file into a free-of-charge soup kitchen three mornings a week because they are broke and down on their luck.

For more than a decade, Centacare Kimberley, the social services arm of the local Catholic diocese, has run its breakfast program from its base on Robinson Street, feeding the town’s homeless and financially unstable people.

But the reason behind providing meals is far deeper than simply filling empty stomachs.

The measure is used as a way of attracting people to its headquarters, where they can access essential health, wellbeing, prison reintegration and homelessness services, as well as housing support and financial advice.

Those targeted by the program often do not have access to a mobile phone or other means of communication and can be difficult to track down because of their itinerant nature.

The service, which operates each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, has a strict policy against drugs and alcohol, with its only other condition of entry being the person needs a Centrelink payment.

CK chief executive Michael King said the overall aim was to engage with people the organisation had historically found difficult to maintain its connection with.

“The number of people we serve breakfast to varies — it is regularly between that 80 to 120 mark, but can be up to about 200 people,” he said.

“Our focus remains on people with an income supplement and there is no doubt that in this region there are a disproportionate number of Aboriginal people accessing the Centrelink system.

“As we are provided funding through different sources, it is important we focus these scarce resources on this particular target group.”

Mr King said there was normally a lively atmosphere at the breakfast and many friendly faces around.

“The people here are able to access donated clothing, use shower and bathroom facilities and amenities, watch TV in the morning and catch up on the news,” he said.

Mr King said the organisation relied on volunteers to serve meals and help visitors and that there could be between one and five at any given time.

CK receives funding from Mercy Care, Lotterywest, and the Departments of Social Services and Child Protection and Family Services.

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