For over 20 years, Deacon Robin Moore and a small, very dedicated team supported those on the margin at the Northbourne Community Centre. St Philip's Care was established in January 1996 — first attending the Condamine Court housing complex in Turner, then, when refurbishment took place in 1997, along the road at the Northbourne Flats.
In 2018 the Northbourne Flats were demolished, and the Centre had to close.
Every Monday this small community centre with a big heart provided a free lunch and support on many levels including recreational activities, physical support (such as food and other essentials), and pastoral support for those in the community. The Centre served low income/disadvantaged people from Canberra's inner north, with some people coming from further afield. Homeless people called in, as did people who referred by various support agencies. Children called in after school.
"We have had over 50 people attend the lunches each week and since our beginning in 1996, we've served over 64,000 meals" said Robin in 2016.
"Problems found in any city, that tend to be hidden in Canberra's seeming affluence include loneliness, poverty, marginalisation, drug and alcohol addictions, violence, mental and physical illness, and many other forms of disadvantage. These may affect people directly or indirectly"
The Centre provided a soft place to fall, a caring supportive atmosphere. It was a safe place to talk over problems, but just as importantly to share the good times. There's nothing lonelier than having a funny story to tell but no one to actually tell it to."
Robin has always had a passion and empathy for people doing it tough. While the Centre was open only on Mondays, Robin is often found providing pastoral support to others throughout the week. As she says, "God's world is gloriously messy and endlessly interesting. We care for all of God's creation, and the well-being of pets and other animals and the outdoor areas are all of concern to us." Robin's work at the Centre was recognised when she was named Individual Volunteer of the Year in the 2011 ACT National Volunteer Awards.
The Centre was very small so much use was made of the outdoor areas all year round. There were basketball practice rings, books, magazines, various fun competitions, chalk boards, musical instruments, board games, children's toys and a makeshift table tennis table.
St Philip's is grateful for the crucial financial assistance it received for the Centre, including from Anglicare, the ACT Government's Community Services Directorate, the Dickson Tradies, NextGen Health & Lifestyle Club Lyneham, the RUC Turner and members of St Philip's parish.
This picture and parts of the story were first published in Anglicare's Church and Community Connections bulletin on Wednesday 12 April 2016.