Whittlesea council gives group a big hug

Encompass Care volunteer Jackie Marcucci. (Damjan Janevski) 207258_01

By Laura Michell

Families in need will be able to receive a helping hand thanks to a partnership between Whittlesea council and two Bundoora community relief agencies.

The council recently provided Big Group Hug with $25,000 from its COVID-19 Community Relief Fund and a part-time staff member to support the agency in its response to the pandemic.

Big Group Hug provides material relief to families and vulnerable children and relies on volunteer help, donations and community fundraising. The agency helps about 100 vulnerable children each week.

The council also gave $18,000 from the fund to Encompass Care Vic and has redeployed staff to help the organsation make welfare calls.

Encompass Care, which is part of the Whittlesea Food Collective, provides referrals, food, toiletries, homeless packs and care essentials to families in need.

The donations follow the council’s $50,000 grant to Whittlesea Community Connections.

Big Group Hug’s Angela Wood said the coronavirus crisis had resulted in dwindling donations, which had limited the agency’s ability to help families.

“We have only been able to provide goods for critical cases – the majority fleeing family violence,” she said.

“Thanks to the funds so quickly and generously provided by Whittlesea council, we will now be able to meet the material aid needs of emergency cases such as these as well as many, many more children experiencing hardship.

Encompass Care chief executive Lois Spinella said the council grant would help the organisation buy food and toiletries for vulnerable families.

Whittlesea council acting chief executive Joe Carbone said the council was pleased to support local agencies.

“Our Community Relief Fund was developed to help groups in our community who are already doing a fantastic job providing much-needed support,” he said.