Cooking bacon on the barbie is one of Marcus’ favourite things to do on a Thursday morning.
This isn’t just his typical breakfast. Marcus is a volunteer cook for Survivor’s R Us: a charity that supports people experiencing domestic violence, homelessness and unemployment.
A few times a week, the organisation runs free BBQ breakfasts in the northern NSW town of Cardiff. Marcus enjoys being a part of the team, as it gives him a chance to socialise with people while helping those in need. The opportunity came at the perfect time in his life as six months ago, Marcus was living in a hotel and waiting for supported independent living accommodation. He was also malnourished from not eating enough food, which affected his mood and energy levels.
To give provide him with the support he needed, Marcus was put in touch with Nicole Greene, who runs Home Caring Newcastle. After chatting with Marcus about his priorities and goals, Nicole matched him with a team of highly experienced and friendly support workers: Steven, Chloe and CJ. According to CJ, the team supports Marcus in lots of different ways: helping him budget his pension, reminding him to shower, and assisting him with grocery shopping. “We make sure all the necessities are done, so he has what he needs before he gets what he wants,” says CJ.
She also provides Marcus with something that is truly priceless: companionship. CJ and Marcus often enjoy talking together while doing tasks, running errands or in the car on the way to appointments. “Being able to relate to each other has been good. We can sit around and have a yack together,” says CJ.
“In the car, a song will come on the radio and I’ll sing along and Marcus he’ll start laughing. We just laugh together, which I think he’s benefited from the most.”
Marcus agrees. “CJ is friendly and helpful. I like how she helps me, but I also like our chats. We just chat about anything … the news, family, all sorts of things,” he says.
It was CJ who introduced Marcus to the free BBQ breakfasts hosted by Survivors are Us. Initially, the event was an easy way for Marcus to socialise regularly with others, but he enjoyed the experience so much that CJ suggested they join the team as a volunteers.
“I asked what he thought about volunteering and he said, “yes, I’d like to do that,” so we completed the induction together. We’ve been volunteering once a week and helping cook a BBQ breakfast ever since. For Marcus to be out in the community and part of something is great,” says CJ.
As for Marcus, he enjoys being able to step outside his comfort zone and engage with others. “It’s just good to have contact with people,” he says. “I really like that.”
He’s now looking forward to getting out in the world even more – to connecting with others while strengthening relationships with his own family. And he won’t be alone; Home Caring is ready to support him along the way.