Paying it forward to families escaping violence

Victims of family violence will receive a restaurant quality meal under a new Pay It Forward campaign in Ballarat.

GIVING: WRISC Family Violence Support's Margaret Cooper, Skip's Jake Dunne, Turret Cafe owner Carmel West and Berry Street's Denise Sheridan are working together to Pay It Forward. Picture: Adam Trafford

GIVING: WRISC Family Violence Support's Margaret Cooper, Skip's Jake Dunne, Turret Cafe owner Carmel West and Berry Street's Denise Sheridan are working together to Pay It Forward. Picture: Adam Trafford

Turret Cafe customers can pay for a meal that is distributed to families through Berry Street and WRISC Family Violence Support.

Turret Cafe owner Carmel West said the new initiative followed the success of the Pay It Forward campaign to provide coffee to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Through conversations with customers and friends, the concern that has kept coming to the fore is families being trapped in the home environment during this shutdown," she said.

"I have two chefs out there who don't qualify for any government payment, so I need to keep them in a job. The Pay It Forward program is a win for them and a win for the community."

Berry Street Family Violence Program manager Denise Sheridan said families escaping violence were more isolated during the coronavirus pandemic, so to provide them with meals had been 'amazing'.

This shows the community is keeping an eye out for them, they are not on their own and there are other people out there that do care.

Margaret Cooper, WRISC Family Violence Support

"We have one woman in crisis accommodation who works full-time, fled family violence and also has small children. She comes home on a Friday night to a lovely meal," she said.

"The kids are so excited to have takeaway for the night and mum is happy not to have to cook a meal and to be able to enjoy with the family."

WRISC Family Violence Support Outreach Program senior case manager Margaret Cooper said the Pay It Forward program offered practical support, but also showed the community was supporting those in need.

"We have women who are at home with children saying 'I have got no one to help me with food'," she said.

"This shows the community is keeping an eye out for them, they are not on their own and there are other people out there that do care. That is a really important part of the message."

Ms West also provided hampers of sweet treats for Berry Street clients on Mother's Day.

"Victim survivors miss out on those special times because quite often they don't have money, the children don't have access to money and they are isolated," Ms Sheridan said.

"To have a cake or a sweet they can share with their family is lovely and shows they were thought of on Mother's Day."

People can Pay It Forward to victims of family violence through the Turret Cafe page on the Skip app.

Skip chief executive Bill Bizos said Skip had waived all service fees so all money goes directly to providing the meals.

"It is important families, women and children feel safe and I think Berry Street and WRISC do an amazing job in that," he said.

Ms West said she hoped community members would support the Pay It Forward campaign that would run as long as support continued.


This story Paying it forward to families escaping violence first appeared on The Courier.