Stephen Barrington: Westfield Local Heroes 2018
Stephen shares 9000 meals and food for the soul
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Foothills Community Care to develop its in house kitchen and purchase a commercial oven and fridge. This will enable them to prepare even more meals for those in need.
Christmas Day can be miserable for people who are isolated because of homelessness, domestic violence or simply because they live alone.
That’s what inspired Stephen Barrington to invite lots of strangers to Christmas Lunch at the Ferntree Gully Guild Guides hall back in 2001. And that’s how Foothills Community Care was founded.
The charity has grown significantly since then and operates out of both the Girl Guides hall and the Upway Baptist Church. It has 200 volunteers serving 9,000 healthy meals a year through its Monday and Wednesday weekly meal; its community casseroles program and its annual Ferntree Gully Christmas Day lunch.
It’s not just about the food, says Stephen. “Over a meal, we talk and we laugh and we share.”
He says many people are deprived of community connection. “So that’s a really important part: sitting down and listening to people’s stories over a meal.”
There are many stories of how Foothills has helped people. But one that stands out is about a person who was sleeping in their car when they first came for a meal.
“They weren’t really eating healthily but, more than that they were really isolated. So, we provided a safe space for them to chat.”
Over the years the person shared their story and began to help at Foothills.
The person moved to a local boarding house and then to public housing and now they bring other people for meals.
Over the years, the charity has expanded and now offers a domestic violence support group and hospitality training.
Stephen is excited to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It’s nice to be acknowledged for the work that we do in the community and for the local community to come on board to support that.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.