The Australian Red Cross provides a vital service to our community in many ways, including running a patrol that services the Perth and Fremantle areas to provide soup and bread to those who might otherwise go hungry.
The Red Cross Fremantle Soup Patrol has been operating since 1977. It operates seven nights per week and is staffed by two volunteers – one driver and one helper. More than 1,500 volunteers assist each year.
Soup Patrol Coordinator from the Red Cross Serena Richardson says there are many people who are struggling for whom the prospect of a nourishing meal is a significant part of their day.
“People are often surprised at how many use this service – in the past year, we have served soup to about 8,000 people,” said Serena.
“We see all kinds of people – children, older men on their own, women who are victims of domestic violence, homeless and unemployed people, those struggling to make ends meet or to feed their families.”
Client demographics indicate, on average, 70 per cent of service users are Caucasian men, women account for 25 per cent and 5 per cent are children.
St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s Social Outreach and Advocacy Manager Peta Wootton says a significant number of Soup Patrol regulars have mental health conditions.
“Australians with a serious mental health illness die up to 20 years earlier than the general population,” said Peta.
“Overwhelmingly, heart disease is the most common cause of death, followed by cancer and respiratory disease.”
“Risk factors for this group include poor diet, insecure housing or homelessness and smoking.”
St John of God Murdoch Hospital has been providing weekly soup for the patrol since 1995, and since 2011, it has rostered volunteer caregivers from the hospital to do the Fremantle run.
If you are interested in contributing or volunteering for the Red Cross Soup Patrol, please contact Serena Richardson from the Red Cross on 9225 8823.