Since we began in 2017, we have dreamed of having our very own vehicle to transport our community in. In February this year, this dream became a reality!
If you’ve been following our previous newsletters and updates, then you’ll know that in July of last year we launched a new program - our local School Bus Run.
This program partners with Merewether Public School to target vulnerable school children in our local community. Those whose school attendance has fallen below 30%. These families are often single parent households and face many challenges in getting their children to school on time. With most of them having large families and no transport, factors such as wet weather and illness can quickly become a big barrier for them. Most of these children are often absent from school altogether or don’t arrive at school until mid-morning. With essential literacy and numeracy skills taught first thing in the morning, this is detrimental to their educational development.
Low attendance puts these children at risk of family intervention by the Department of Communities and Justice, as their educational needs are not being met.
Our Bus Run Program picks up children from their homes each morning and drops them to school in time for them to receive a free breakfast before they start their day.
We were able to kick this program off in term 3 of 2021, thanks to our partnership with Mission to Seafarers Newcastle (MTS). MTS is a brilliant charity that supports seafarers from around the world.
During 2021, Covid-19 travel restrictions meant that less seafarers were coming into port and MTS therefore, had an idle bus that they could put to good use. MTS provided us with a bus and drivers to transport the children to school, alongside one of our Wellbeing Workers.
After just one term of running this program, Merewether Public School told us they had seen a 30% increase in the school attendance of these children.
The bus run is an exciting part of the children’s morning, they jump onto the bus smiling and chattering about what’s happening at school that day. Soon after starting the program, we had more parents requesting that their children also be a part of the bus run.
Here’s what one of the mums with two children involved in the Bus Run program had to say about it:
“It’s really beneficial, especially in the morning when you’ve got multiple kids, it’s convenient to get them there and the kids enjoy it, they get to school on time. I really appreciate it, it’s not easy doing it on my own and trying to get multiple kids to school. Especially for single mothers it’s a great help, it’s a weight off my shoulders.”
However, as Covid-19 travel restrictions eased and more seafarers were requiring MTS’s services, MTS needed full use of all their vehicles again.
We are so grateful for MTS’s support last year, which helped us get this program off the ground. But with just a few weeks before school returned, it looked like we would have to cancel this program.
But then, in the same week, a phone call from two of our beautiful long-time supporters changed everything.
Two supporters who have volunteered with us at different LIVEfree Project fundraising events in the past, decided to give us a beautiful gift. They were upgrading their car and decided to donate their spare 7-seater vehicle to us!
This thoughtful and generous act has been such a timely and life changing gift for us!
“The thought of having a van gifted to the Project was completely surreal and even now as I see it driving around the streets with our wellbeing workers in it and incredible volunteers it still takes my breath away. ”
- Chris Jones, LIVEfree Project Director
Not only were we able to start the Bus Run Program back up in time for this school term, but we now have our VERY OWN LIVEFREE PROJECT VEHICLE, that we can use not just for the bus run, but for transporting our clients all across Newcastle to help them access the services they need.
“This vehicle impacts all of our programs. It means that if a client needs a medical appointment, we can take them. Or if we have a group, like our Inspire Women’s Group, and we want to go to the beach, we can actually all fit and go to the beach for a walk. It means that our programs are not limited by the building anymore, that we actually have more freedom to be able to move our location and make our programs a little bit more diverse.”
- Rachel Gaunt, Program Coordinator
In the few short weeks we’ve had this vehicle it has supported the following services:
The School Bus Run program
Transporting children to Smile and Thrive Dental Appointments
Providing crisis relief
Inspire Women outing
What an exciting start to our year.
We’re so grateful for this gift and look forward to the opportunities it will open for us in the future!
“It’s moments like these that you realise connection with community is actually essential to accomplishing the cause for the greater good! We all need each other! The generosity and kindness of our sponsors and partners never fails to surprise, overwhelm and excite me for what the future holds - anything is possible when it comes to working and dreaming together!”
- Chris Jones, LIVEfree Project Director
We cannot thank these sponsors enough for their generous gift. And thank you to all of our supporters who donate their time, resources and money to support the work we do.
If you’re following our story and would like to know how you can support us further, then become one of our grassroots sponsors today!
As a grassroots charity, we are enmeshed in community issues and are deeply connected to the people in need. Grassroots sponsors support the everyday running of our organisation.
And as LIVEfree Project continues to grow, we hold our breath as we embrace the needs that are aching to be met, hoping that there will be incredible sponsors, just like you, who will see the need and lean in to be apart of the solution.
The support of everyday community members like you, releases us to what we do best without limitations. If you want to see the results of your donation in action, then consider becoming one of our grassroots sponsors today by committing to donating $22 a month for the rest of 2022.