Delivering for the west

West Welcome Wagon volunteers Larissa Beech and Melanie Chea. (Damjan Janevski) 354213_01

West Welcome Wagon, a charity based in Sunshine that provides everything refugees and asylum seekers need to set up a home, have been given a leg up to help deliver critical services for those in the west.

West Welcome Wagon supports 700 households in Melbourne’s west, and provides a range of essential items including, beds, cots, white goods, kitchen utensils, food parcels, clothing, and more.

The charity has been awarded a federal grant that will pay for volunteers to undertake test and tag courses that will qualify them to check donated electrical goods and ensure they are in safe working order.

Chief executive Colette McInerney said the charity is supporting people from 42 countries, including Myanmar, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Iraq.

“Demand is constant for white goods in particular. They are out the door almost immediately. And during these cold winter months demand has also been strong for blankets and heaters,” she said.

West Welcome Wagon has grown enormously since its small beginnings as a Facebook group 10 years ago.

The charity now has two warehouses, two delivery vans, four paid staff and a band of dedicated volunteers.

Chair of the organisation Chris Scerri said that during its time across the past 10 years, the charity has supported 2100 households to get back on their feet.

“It is such rewarding work. It is life-changing for the families,” he said.

High on the list of needs now for West Welcome Wagon are more volunteers and additional funding.

Fraser MP Dr Daniel Mulino said the staff and volunteers work hard so that people who come to Australia can create a home.

“Being able to check the safety of so many products – such as toasters, kettles, microwaves and heaters – will stop them going into landfill, which is also good for the environment,” he said.