Bread of Life
Posted: 18 November 2015
“Everyone here is in the same boat. . . you don’t ask for anything back. . . I feel comfortable here and can be myself”
For the past 20 years St Michael’s Surry Hills (and now Vine Church), has been providing breakfast each Sunday to over 50 people doing it tough in our city.
We call it Bread of Life because we believe that providing a hearty breakfast in a safe community can and does change lives.
Not only does it change the lives of those on the margins, it also changes the lives of those who serve them. With Surry Hills becoming incerasingly stratified, the social distance between members of our community is growing. Bread of Life aims to reduce that distance by bringing together those who don't otherwise sit down for a meal together. We believe that by breaking bread with each other, unlikely friendships can emerge, and marginalisation will break down.
Every Sunday, one of five teams rostered on each month, arrives at 7am to prepare breakfast. At 8am the doors are open and on average, 50 companions come to eat. We call those who come companions because we believe people should be defined by their relationships not their circumstances.
Companions enjoy cereal, hot food, coffee and tea and whatever else the team may provide. At 8.30am we run Brekkie Church: a brief church service under the Jacaranda tree outside the hall which 10 companions come to on average. Paul Oh coordinates Bread of Life and Mike Wziontek runs Brekkie Church. All the other team members are volunteers.
A 2011 Bread survey of 20 Companions found:
- Majority are male (89%) and over 36 years old,
- A third are sleeping rough and others live in boarding houses & housing commission,
- Most suffer from mental health, health and addiction problems,
- Companions are long-term unemployed and rely on ‘day services’ and free food/ meals.
In May each year we collect blankets and jumpers and distribute them during winter. Bread of Life runs every on Sunday during in the year (except January) and also on Christmas Day.
We’d love to invite you to consider volunteering with us one Sunday morning. All training and support will be provided. You can register your interest here.
Bread of Life costs $20,000 per year to run. Please consider giving a tax deductible gift to the ongoing costs of running this valuable initiative.