By Gabriella Payne
For years now, the team at Hopeworks Community Solutions have been giving back to the community by helping those in need, and the amazing work that they do has now been given a boost thanks to some much needed funding, in the form of their first ever government grant.
Bass MP Jordan Crugnale stopped by the not-for-profit organisation’s Pakenham warehouse on Wednesday 16 June to announce the good news that Hopeworks had been chosen as one of six grant recipients in her electorate that would receive funding from VicHealth.
The managing director of Hopeworks, Cher Spratt, said that it was “very exciting” to receive their first ever grant, which will provide the organisation with $9,500 to purchase a forklift to assist them in their work as a food relief charity.
“This grant means we will be able to work more efficiently and do more things for the community,” Ms Spratt said.
“We had a second hand forklift in the past, but it was full of batteries that ended up dying, and I think it was about $6,000 – $7,000 to replace them.
“We just didn’t have that kind of money and didn’t feel it was practical for us [to replace], so we put in an application to get the money for a new one, and now we have!” she said.
“All of a sudden after all these years of being under the radar doing our thing, the Cardinia Shire have noticed us and asked us to help with a lot more relief,” Ms Spratt said, adding that the money for a new forklift would help them immensely moving forward.
Alongside Hopeworks, the five other organisations in the Bass electorate to receive a VicHealth ‘reimagining health grant’ include the Lang Lang United Soccer Club, Wonthaggi United Soccer Club, Bass Coast Ballet School, Nicole Lee Qigong and the Bass Coast Landcare Network.
The grants were introduced in a bid to help communities across the state reconnect and improve their health following the impacts of coronavirus and the Victorian bushfires, and hope to increase community access to healthy, affordable food, provide greater opportunities for physical activity and help locals build better social connections within their communities.
Jordan Crugnale said that it was wonderful to recognise local social enterprises like Hopeworks in this way and help support their tireless efforts to help the wider community.
“We have amazing grassroots organisations with locally led solutions that at their heart is to support and improve the health and wellbeing of our residents,” Ms Crugnale said.
“Thank you to them and to VicHealth – the breadth of projects and initiatives is so ranging and says so much about these community focused local clubs, organisations, groups.”
Since 2015, Hopeworks Community Solutions have helped train “almost 500” senior high school students and helped them transition into tertiary education and employment, while collecting donations of all kinds to help those in need.
Ms Spratt thanked Ms Crugnale for going “above and beyond” to help them, and said that on top of the VicHealth grant, the organisation had also been the lucky recipient of a $20,000 grant from the Pakenham Race Club, which would help them buy a new van to make deliveries and collect donations into the future.