BY JARROD MELMETH
Newcastle City Council has ordered the shut down of the community food cupboard at Hamilton Train Station saying it has a regulatory responsibility to manage the use of the public land.
The community led initiative which provides food and clothing for disadvantaged and vulnerable locals was born during the first COVID-19 lockdown, in response to the hardships it created.
A petition has been launched, which as of Thursday had 1,400 signatures in just over 12 hours. It is calling for the council to reverse its decision.
Community member Elena Pavlou Kirri says closing down the cupboard will have a detrimental effect on our most vulnerable.
“The pantry was put in place by community members and maintained by community members.
“It shares with not only people who are struggling with homelessness, food insecurity and financial insecurity but also just broadly members of the community engaging in a mutual sharing network, giving what you can and taking what you need.
“I think the communities self-sustainability, the ability for members of the community to feel self-sufficient, to feel a sense of efficacy is really important and for the council to undermine that by suggesting that their aide is central and the only legitimate or valid aide is really undermining this community as a whole,” Ms Pavlou Kirri said.
In a statement, City of Newcastle says it has a responsibility to do everything that it reasonably can to ensure that the community can access our public spaces safely.
“The City is working with the NSW Police as well as state government agencies, and local community welfare providers to connect people with support ahead of the planned removal of an unlicensed community pantry operating in a park.
“Over the coming weeks, NSW Police, City of Newcastle rangers and the Department of Community and Justice will attend the park to connect community members with alternate support if required prior to the pantry being removed,” The statement said.
The petition can be found here.