The Plate Up Project wins Brighter Futures round

Published on 30 August 2018

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Plate Up’s hand up for the homeless creates brighter futures


The National Homeless Collective formally known as the Melbourne Homeless Collective, started out as an unincorporated small association that was focusing on collecting blankets and sleeping bags and toiletries for people who were sleeping rough. As the collection of blankets gained momentum, they started collecting sanitary items too, which quickly evolved into the Melbourne period project.

Word spread and the Homeless Collective soon realized that what they were doing was needed right across the country – they were getting calls from organizations in Brisbane and Sydney and Canberra, Gold Coast, Perth.

To date the National Homeless Collective runs six projects to support people sleeping rough or living in crisis accommodation, including The Plate up Project.

Donna Stolzenberg, Founder of the National Homeless Collective first started planning the Plate up Project just 12 months ago and in February 2018 launched the pilot project.

The Plate up Project offers people fleeing domestic violence and experiencing homelessness a hand up, not a hand out, by assisting its students to gain new cooking, hospitality and employment skills.

“The biggest challenges that we faced was that we didn't have a precedent. We didn't know what the outcome should be, would be,” Donna said.

“We didn't know with the cohort of people that we were working with, what to expect, how high to aim. But we just knew it had to be done.

“After the success of our first pilot and the support from Sunsuper’s Dreams for a Better World program, we’re getting ready to launch our next training program.”

The Plate up Project is unique – it doesn’t just provide training and employment opportunities for women, but the project works with potential employers to help them understand some of the unique challenges people from domestic violence or homeless backgrounds deal with every day.

“A big part of The Plate up Project is getting the public and importantly, prospective employers to understand the barriers that cause the homelessness and the ongoing effects will still be in play after the participants finish their training and start work,” Donna said.

“The journey to homelessness and escaping domestic violence or family violence is something that can affect people for a very, very long time, and we really need to be mindful of those long term effects.

“That’s why it is really important employers understand the barriers of homelessness are still going to be there even if they get a home or even a place to live, and they understand that the trauma of homelessness or domestic violence might still come into play for years. That’s why we ensure our employers do a Plate up Project certification.

“I think the chefs that have been involved so far, what they've learned is how everyday people are experiencing homelessness.

“They come in and they might have a different expectation of the cohort that they're going to be working with that day, but often they quickly realize that the people that are doing the Plate Up project are just like them. They're just like everybody else. They just happen to be down on their luck with family situations or homelessness.

Plate Up is so much more than a cooking program. It helps people get their confidence back, it helps them back into the workforce, and it seeks to engage and reconnect people through positive pathways.

Learn about The Plate Up Project's dream. 

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