On 1 November, Fremantle Foundation held its sixth Impact 100 grants event, with Fremantle PCYC receiving a $100,000 grant to continue their successful pilot Breakfast Club Program for at-risk youths and children in the Fremantle area. The program has been strongly supported by local business, the Fremantle Foundation, City of Fremantle and several other key contributors. The program is working, with school attendance already higher just 14 weeks in.
Many donors and event attendees were shocked to learn there was such a high degree of poverty in the Fremantle area. “There’s an assumption that all our young people have a secure home life,” explains Fremantle PCYC Centre Manager, Julie Gorman, also a former police officer. “But in truth, there are heart-breaking stories shared by children who come into the centre looking for food, someone to share their problems with, pick up some reading and literacy skills and homework help via our programs, or for the social side. Many of these children are feeling isolated and lonely.”
The program will continue to provide breakfast for up to 30 children aged four to 15 years every Monday and Wednesday morning through to school terms in 2019 and 2020. The delivery of the program includes the employment of a cook/coordinator. A youth worker will be employed to supervise children while they are in the program.
Statistics and PCYC experience shows lack of food is not only too common in the City of Fremantle but leads to isolation, poor school attendance and being stuck in a cycle of low education and welfare, facing an unlevelled playing field.
The Impact 100 unique assessment process is highly competitive, culminating in a ‘pitch’ by four shortlisted not-for-profits. One hundred $1,000 donors drop their voting ‘pebble’ into one of four jars representing each charity.
PCYC Fremantle Youth Worker Daniel Roy told the audience the story of two young children, six- and nine-years-old whom he saw huddled together walking in the rain early one Monday morning. They were brought into the program and given clean dry clothes and shoes and a hot breakfast. The nine-year-old girl told staff they were walking to their Grandma’s house, five kilometres away because they had been at home alone all weekend and didn’t know where their mum was.
They are just two of many children in the area surrounded by poverty, domestic violence and neglect, with their father in jail and a mother who uses drugs to cope. “We’re a second home for these children,” Mr Roy explains. “We make them feel like they belong.” ‘Belonging’ was the theme of this year’s Impact 100 grant.
For children in the program, it’s more than food or clothes. PCYC is giving this little girl opportunities she would never have had with just a breakfast club. She’s now a non-paying member of the PCYC gymnastics program where she is excelling. She recently participated in her first competition, winning a medal for the first time in her life.
Local statistics are concerning. Compared to the State-average of 93.1 % school attendance, Hilton Primary sits at 83.6%. The breakfast attendees were sitting well below the State at 76% at the beginning of the pilot program. However, 14 weeks in, the highest individual increase was six percent.
10-year-old Ben’s attendance has increased by 3%. This may seem a small figure, but it is an increase of an additional six days of school for this period. Previously, Ben never ate breakfast, usually went to school without enough food and disliked being there. His teacher commented he has a new positive outlook to his school work and is much more willing to engage in classroom activities.
Half of the breakfast program attendees go to school with only sometimes having a meal or eating nothing at all. PCYC fills the gap when schools do not provide a breakfast program.
Making this situation even more dire, many are attending school without recess or lunch. PCYC now provides fruit, snacks and sandwiches. It’s not uncommon for students to attend without a uniform, school bag or clean clothes, sometimes even walking to school barefoot. PCYC has been able to provide these basic necessities.
PCYC is the place where they can ask for these items without shame. With these needs met, they move from being disengaged to being included, healthier and happier children.
Julie Gorman explains, “The Breakfast Program is more than just a meal or providing support to those in need. It’s a tangible way of showing our youth the community cares, that they are important and they do belong.”
About Fremantle PCYC
PCYC has been operating in Fremantle for over 45 years. It is a sustainable organisation with a great track record of making a tangible difference in young peoples’ lives, which ripples through to the broader community.
As the Fremantle community hub, recreational activities and youth intervention projects are provided which recently capped at over 8,000 visitations a month. Without PCYC, many young people and families would be without hope.
The breakfast program like many of their programs, is a stepping stone to PCYC’s array of proven activities that develop young people into engaged members of our community.
It is the powerful bridge that allows our children to reach their potential and connect with the blend of programs and activities that only PCYC offer.
Congratulations to all concerned. Empowering young people and transforming lives can only happen with the support of the community and the generous supporters who have helped make this happen.
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