WORKING WITH LIFELINE – Ross Coomber

MAKE THE CALL
Things develop behind the scenes that change your life and sometimes it involves some time, effort and commitment. Three years ago, out of the blue, I was approached to join the local board of Lifeline to be part of the re-development of the local area operations.
Lifeline North Coast (LLNC) has its local operations based in Coffs Harbour and controls a number of programmes in the area from Grafton to the north, down to Nambucca Heads to the south.

This includes shops in Grafton, Coffs central, Toormina and Nambucca Heads. These shops are the main source of income for the projects that are in operation. These shops supply over 60% of the funding required to keep the programmes operational.

Funding is very tight as most fund-raising campaigns see funds go to Lifeline Australia, the national coordinating body, although local areas are expected to run their own areas through their local fund-raising efforts.

So what’s going on in the LLNC area?

Four shops, with an employed manager at each, with the help of rostered volunteers, process and sell the usual op-shop items. There is a bulky goods furniture section, at one shop site, together with a processing area for clothing and material not suitable for sale.

Life Line Ross
Ross Coomber

Even if we can’t sell some items of clothing, cotton items are cut into rags and items in good repair are baled to send overseas to a developing country. In the case of LLNC all shop spaces are rented with the associated costs having to be met.

These goods are collected by volunteers in a Lifeline truck from donors at residences, work
places and from the easily recognised Lifeline collection bins, with the blue paint scheme.
The purchase, maintenance and operational expenses of these vehicles is a major cost that has to be met from the sale proceeds of the shops.

There are two telephone “desks” in Coffs Harbour, for the 13 11 14 Lifeline call service. These are linked to the Australia-wide Lifeline telephone service. They operate from separate rented premises.

The current call rate of these local phones is averaging 1100 calls per month (this average number has increased over the last twelve months), with the phones usually operating from 6am to 8pm.

The hours of operation depend upon the number of available volunteer Telephone Counsellors. Courses are run to train new volunteer telephone councillors. There is supervision of all counsellors by trained and qualified, permanent staff.

Lifeline North Coast is also funded by the Responsible Gambling Fund to operate programmes to assist people who are experiencing problem gambling behaviour. This program also conducts a financial planning service and this program is dealing with an increasing number of bankruptcy matters.Lifeline Logo

Our centre has recently become involving in training the staff of community organisations to be aware of potential Domestic violence situations.

Being involved, has meant the development of new skills brought about by the awareness of the requirements of good governance and the responsibility of maintaining many services run by a gregarious mix of professionals and dedicated volunteers. It can put you on a steep learning curve meeting all the challenges that are presented through such an organisation such as Lifeline. It also heightens one’s awareness to some of the social issues that abound in our communities, not only in this area, but Australia-wide.

I’m particularly conscious of the needs of rural people (male and female of all ages) in the far-flung areas of the state who not only have particular geographical issues to deal with, but who also are physically isolated from families, friends, mentors, “confidants” and the general social interaction so important to our well-being.By helping others we help ourselves

It is not easy to be involved in such endeavours, and it can be complex.

If you need to have a yarn, “Make the Call” to 13 11 14.

If you think that you can assist in some way, you can also “Make the Call” to Lifeline North Coast on 02 66 514 093 and speak with the General Manager.

Perhaps you could volunteer to help with Lifeline in your local town or area.  Lifeline telephone numbers are available in the phone book.  Or Google, Lifeline and check out the various websites for information on their services and needs.

Editor’s note: Whilst  living in a developing country I was always amazed by the excitement created by a new bale. Women would be waiting outside charity shops for the opening of the doors and the splitting of the bales.  Clothes would spill across the floor and there was a frenzy akin to a rugby scrum to find the greatest bargains.  Expats would turn up a few days later and buy clothes for their guards, gardeners and cleaners.  Of course they often found a little treasure for themselves too!  Most bale clothes are less than A$2 and are the only clothes affordable by locals and sometimes many items are unavailable for purchase at any price.  Bales are a necessity to developing nations.