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Steve Poulton: Soul Cafe: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Retired football star shares food and connection

Compassionate. Hardworking. Generous

Steve Poulton was a first-grade footballer who won grand finals with Wests Newcastle in the 1980s, although he also partook in unhealthy behaviours during this time.

He has since given up his unhealthy habits and for the past fourteen years has been volunteering for twenty hours a week at the Soul Café charity, collecting donated food from restaurants and cooking breakfasts for homeless people.

“I like talking to the different people who come in. Some of these guys have no one else to talk to,” Steve says. “I also like working with the other volunteers.”

He feels honoured to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It’s been a privilege. The cafe has changed my whole outlook on life,” he says.

“Soul Café has come a long way, and I feel very lucky to represent them. Everyone is on the same wavelength about how we care about the community.”

Steve saves the money he used to spend on cigarettes and alcohol and buys special treats to hand out to guests at the café.

He has enormous compassion for those with substance abuse problems and facilitates a weekly SMART Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program.

“The people at Soul Café are not accepted by society because of how they look or smell, or they might be struggling single parents or families. A lot of the guys are just out from prison or are in trouble,” says Steve.

“At Soul Café, they can get food, hygiene products and a blanket, or they can see the doctor or mental health nurse. We try to help them out of the trouble they are in.”

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.

Soul Café will use its grant to buy food and train more volunteers for the SMART recovery program.

“The program has had good results. The grant will really go a long way,” says Steve.

And he reminds us: “Don’t look down on the homeless, because one day you could end up there yourself.”

__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __

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