Newcastle’s Soul Café has undergone a $20,000 refurbishment thanks to a federal government grant and Port of Newcastle giant Orica.
The cash injection funded a facelift of the café area and upgrade of kitchen facilities for the charity, which provides access to services, hot meals and conversation for the city’s vulnerable.
In the café area, a paint job was undertaken, and new furniture purchased, replacing items that had been in use since Soul Café opened in 2003.
“We want our guests to sit in a beautiful environment, we want the best for them,” Soul Café chief executive officer Rick Prosser said.
“Those tables are an essential component of engaging with people, it opens up a conversation of how we are able to help.”
In the kitchen the café’s 145 volunteers will be able to use upgraded fittings including a dishwasher, pre-rinser and 20-litre mixer.
Each week the volunteers give 360 hours to deliver around 700 meals, both sit-down and takeaway.
“The kitchen equipment really adds value to our volunteer base,” Mr Prosser said.
“We greatly value our volunteers, and we need to look after them.”
In order to obtain a grant from the Stronger Communities Programme a dollar-for-dollar commitment was needed.
The café was unable to meet the requirement on its own, so approached Orica who jumped at the opportunity to partner with Soul Café and Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon for the project.
“Delivering meals is critically important to us, those sorts of additions [facility upgrades] just can’t be in your budget,” Mr Prosser said.
“We’re very thankful for everyone who supports us.”