Big Group Hug to meet big demand in Wyndham

Big Group Hug CEO Bernadene Voss and volunteer Tashfia Nuhaz at the charity's new hub in Tarneit. (Damjan Janevski) 385114_01

Cade Lucas

With Wyndham holding the dual distinction of being the fastest growing municipality in the nation as well as one of the most vulnerable to cost of living pressures, support for households in financial stress is paramount.

Fortunately, another charity devoted to doing just that has begun operating in Wyndham, with

Big Group Hug recently opening a new hub in Tarneit.

Established in Melbourne’s north a decade ago, Big Group Hub provides material support to disadvantaged families with children aged up to 16.

CEO Bernadene Voss explained the reasoning behind the location of the new hub.

“It’s important for us that we are in Tarneit or in that general area because data that we commissioned 12 months ago has shown that it’s a an area in high need,” she said, nominating mortgage stress, family violence, food security and poor mental health as issues that were most prevalent in the area.

Ms Voss said these problems were magnified by the rapid growth and high birth rate in Wyndham.

“It’s where a lot of people are locating to and we know that it’s got 97 babies being born each week, just in the city of Wyndham,” she said.

“I heard a number of years ago that there was one kindergarten room being born each week. Well 97, if you take 20 as the average, that’s actually five kindergarten rooms being born every week. That’s quite incredible.”

Given the scale of demand, Big Group Hug only provides support upon request from a caseworker, social worker or maternal health nurse, with its aid focused on children and babies.

“Clothing, shoes, nappies, car seats, prams, cots, linen for bedding, that sort of thing,” said Ms Voss, adding that apart from nappies and baby formula, all goods were donated second hand.

She said that even one donation can make a big difference to a struggling family.

“Say you need four tins of infant formula a month. They’re $35 each and you probably need about four packs of nappies a month as well and so that’s a couple of hundred dollars in just those two items that we provide. Generally our packs are around $1,000 in terms of their value.”

Big Group Hug’s new Tarneit hub is currently operating every Thursday and volunteers and donations are welcome.

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