Happy 10 year anniversary, Cherie!

Cherie, community programs manager

As you all know, Cherie is our amazing Community Programs manager, and she’s celebrating 10 years at the Community Centre this year!

Thank you, Cherie

Cherie oversees a magnitude of programs including the Byron Shire Volunteer Hub, the Seniors’ programs, the BCC reception and the Rough Sleepers Projects which include the Severe Wet Weather Shelter, the Byron Shire Showers Project and the Homeless Breakfast Hub.

Cherie, we love you and want to THANK YOU for everything you do every day in the Community Centre and for the Byron Community.

Cherie’s story

In December 2019, I was one of 37 who applied for the 10 hours a week job as Volunteer Coordinator, one of 5 to get an interview and one of 3 to have a trial with front reception extraordinaire Trish Denoon. I got the job. 

When Paul told me over the phone and asked what days I wanted to work, I wasn’t sure and he said “Well we can work it out later, as long as you are happy Cherie, we will be happy!” No employer had ever said that to me before. I’ve been pretty happy ever since.

The position was bumped up to 15 within 6 months and once the Volunteer Hub was formed in 2014, went up to 20 hours per week. With changes to funding and staffing, community programs were added to my responsibilities in 2018. The volunteer workforce at the centre has been an extraordinary phenomenon and for those staff who have the ability to coordinate and work with volunteers on a daily basis, their work is greatly enhanced. I’ve always said that “The volunteers make me look good” and I stick by that!

I signed my employment contract in early February 2010, so the actual anniversary has slipped by, but Pippy assures me there will be a party to celebrate all of the long-timers at the centre (eg Carl Taylor, Majida, Shamana, Surati, Jeannie to name a few). I particularly want to thank Pippy for all her support and commitment throughout the years as both a volunteer and staff.

Byron Community Pantry

The Byron Community Pantry is a Food Outreach Service made possible by Allygroup’s generous donation. The Byron Community Centre has been offering food outreach services for over 14 years. Due to the current health crisis and the new regulations which resulted in job loss for many Byron Shire locals, the demand for essential services like counselling or help with meals and groceries has drastically increased. 

About the project

Byron Emergency Pantry

The Byron Community Pantry is available to anyone unable to financially or physically shop. Food boxes can be provided with vegan, vegetarian and meat options to all people in need.

For this service, the Byron Community Centre receives hands-on support from Liz Jackson and her team from Liberation Larder. Moreover, the Byron Community Centre continues the great work of the Northern Rivers Pantry Project. 

Liz Jackson manages the food preparation including the management of cooks, staff and purchasing of packaging. Helen Hamilton, President of the Byron Bay Community Association, is initially coordinating this effort together with Byron Community Centre staff. The Byron Community Centre provides staff to assist with phone enquiries, food packaging and some volunteers for deliveries and administrative tasks.

Supporters and donors

Amrita Pantry Porject

We want to thank the businesses and organisations in Byron Bay and everyone who generously donated to the Byron Community Pantry. Your donations help us to support vulnerable community members.

First National Byron donated $3000 to this project and their staff are volunteering to be delivery drivers. Thank you so much for your support! You are amazing!!

Volunteers from the Byron Bay Amma group and the Amrita Pantry Project are contributing a generous amount of food and essentials as well as packing and delivering food boxes every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month. Thank you very much for your generous support, it is much appreciated.

Other major donors:

How to arrange delivery

If you would like to contact the Byron Community Pantry for food delivery in the Byron Shire, call 0482 787 552 between Monday – Thursday from 10am – 2pm to arrange delivery. 

Donate today

Support this essential service with a donation and help us help the community.

  • Byron Community Pantry

    Thank you for donating to the Byron Community Centre.  We appreciate your contribution.
    Please note that we use 20% of every donation to help with admin costs. All donations are tax-deductible.

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  • Free phone counselling for Byron Shire residents

    Phone counselling

    In a previous post, we mentioned that we recently received generous financial support from Allygroup, a legal resourcing and management consultancy.

    We are grateful for this incredible contribution because it enables us to continue and expand our essential community services during these challenging times when most of our usual income streams have ceased, and community members are heavily impacted by the current health crisis.

    About the service

    Thanks to the generous donation by Allygroup, we are able to offer free phone counselling for locals experiencing distress due to COVID-19 pressures. This service is carried out by a psychologist and 4 trained, experienced counsellors for the next 3 months.

    A psychologist will initially triage and assess new calls and if appropriate, refer the caller to one of the counsellors. Counselling calls will last for 50 – 60 minutes and if needed, future support calls will be organised by each counsellor. All counsellors are qualified and covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance.

    This service is available to Byron Shire residents during weekdays between 10am – 2pm. 

    Get in touch

    If you have concerns for your mental health during this difficult time, we encourage you to make use of our free phone counselling service.

    Call 0415 322 064 from Monday – Friday between 10am – 2pm to make an appointment.

    The BCC building receives a face-lift this March

    The School of Art building in 1907

    The heritage-listed building which houses the Byron Community Centre, the Byron Theatre, the Byron Markets office and several local businesses, is due for refurbishment and some necessary renovation works. 

    The last major renovation works on the building were done in 1980/81.

    Refurbishment works on the facade of the building

    Byron Community Centre and Theatre management worked together with local design agency Whitewood on a proposal to refurbish the facade of the heritage-listed building. Byron Shire Council approved the proposal and works will commence in March. These works have been funded by grants received from the NSW Government Public Reserves Management Fund and more recently from Byron Shire Council for specific heritage projects. 

    The refurbishment works involve the washing of the building, new paint finishes on the external front of the building visible to Jonson St and replacing of the balustrade. The entry atrium area will receive new paint finishes. Finally, decorative lattice, verandah brackets and new signage will be added. 

    Putting the Byron Theatre in the spotlight

    Art Deco style 1939

    The new-look will increase the buildings’ presence on Jonson St and shows that it’s more than a community support hub because new signage will give pedestrians and visitors more clarity of the use of the building. In addition to that, one main objective is to increase the presence of the Byron Theatre on Jonson St and to provide ample opportunities to promote upcoming shows. 

    “My team and I welcome the refurbishment, as it will put the Byron Theatre in the spotlight and increase its visibility on Jonson St. We are right opposite the visitors and tourist precinct but visitors don’t know the theatre exists! The new exterior design will really give us more presence and the opportunity to broaden our market,” says Tanja Greulich, manager of the Byron Theatre. 

    Inspiration from the Federation era architecture

    The proposal honours the 100 years long history of the building and pays respect to its status as a heritage-listed building. 

    After renovation works in 1980/81

    “We drew inspiration from the original design of the building in 1907 when it was the Byron Bay School of Arts. It was important to us to incorporate elements of the Federation era architecture into our design plans,” said Julie King from Whitewood. “We worked closely with the Council to honour the buildings’ original character and its rich history.”

    The building was always the focal point of the town and the go-to place for the local community.  The renovation works will start a new chapter for the old building.

    “The refurbishment will give the building a new lease of life. The new-look will give the building a personality and presence on Jonson St.,” said Louise O’Connell, general manager of the Byron Community Centre. “We are very excited to reveal the new look to the public.” 

    Hidden Women of Byron Bay Fundraiser

    Shining a light on the issue of women who are homeless in Byron Bay.

    About this Event

    Join us for an International Women’s Day Lunch supporting our Hidden Women of Byron Bay.

    Hosted by Beef & Beach, Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce, and the Byron Community Centre.

    Your Ticket includes a Welcome Drink, Canapes, Banquet Lunch, and a donation to the Byron Community Centre for their recently launched women’s program.

    Did you know?

    The fastest-growing category of people experiencing homelessness is middle-aged and older single women.

    Domestic violence, isolation, poor mental health, children leaving the family home and the economic effects of this are key factors. Many of these women are sleeping in their cars, makeshift camps, or in unsuitable and dangerous accommodation.

    Together, we are raising funds to help these women through The Byron Community Centre.

    The Byron Community Centre has just commenced a program for women to provide wellbeing and support services locally.

    Women at risk of homelessness (as well as those already homeless) can have computer and internet access; counselling; therapeutic activities such as gardening and arts and craft; and access to hot showers, hygiene products and pamper days.

    Your financial support ensures this program continues effectively (in partnership with other organisations working with women in the Byron shire) to help these women from falling through the gaps.

    Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/hidden-women-of-byron-bay-luncheon-international-womens-day-tickets-92594924913

    Safe shelter during extreme weather events

    The Byron Community Centre (BCC) has provided 11 nights of shelter during severe wet weather in 2020. 

    Safe and secure shelter for those sleeping rough

    The Sever Wet Weather Shelter project offers a comfortable night sleep for those sleeping rough. There are plenty of hot meals, king-single camp stretchers, sheets and blankets, toilet facilities and a set of agreed house rules to keep everyone safe and secure.

    50 people registered for a bed during the past weather event and 45 people ended up staying for at least one night. Some have stayed for 10 nights.

    In partnership with the Uniting and Anglican Churches and Liberation Larder, the BCC has been running the Severe Wet Weather Shelter for the past two years. 

    “It requires a lot of organisation each night we run it,” says Elyssa Purdie the Homeless Projects Worker at the BCC.  “Confirming security guard services, qualified overnight crisis workers, cleaners, volunteers, food and other consumables, clean laundry, managing keys, monitoring behaviour and of course keeping an eye on the weather on a daily basis takes an enormous amount of time and resource. The weather is sometimes the most stressful element.”

    “To keep the shelter running, we need to access ongoing funding or donations from the community.”

    There is no recurrent government funding for this project. The project was made possible by small one-off grants secured in 2017 – 2019 from NRCF, Westpac, Harcourts, the Byron Shire Council and from generous donations from Global Ripple op-shop and Cunning Stunts (Wink Wink Nudge Nudge events at Billinudgel). 

    The BCC has enough to run another 16 nights of a mixed-gender shelter or 8 nights of shelter where the genders are separate. 

    Louise O’Connell, General Manager of the Byron Community Centre says “For the Centre to keep offering the shelter, we will need to access either ongoing funding or donations from the community.”

    “As long as we are here, we are alright.”

    Simon Warner said about the shelter after staying for 4 nights “I’d be getting pretty wet sleeping on the street. As long as we are here, we are alright. The staff are really good, give us a hot meal and a coffee and a chat in the morning. I think what is missing is a hot shower. I have to wait till Monday for that at the showers.”

    BCC Community Programs Manager says “10 of the nights were run concurrently recently and gave us the opportunity to put the policies, procedures and resources of the project to the test.” “We have reviewed and improved operations each night.”

    “I hope we can continue to offer this project into the future.”

    She adds “The shelter does not suit everyone sleeping rough. To give you an example, we cannot have dogs at the shelter because we don’t have kennels to safely house them; we can’t allow the use of alcohol and drugs in the venue or even allow someone to play music as it may disturb other guests.  Some people just can’t sleep in the same room as others, and some are suspicious of the security guards who are there to ensure everyone’s safety.  On the positive side, we are offering 20 beds more than anyone else in the shire and everyone who has a dry night sleep is exceptionally grateful.  I hope we can continue to offer this project into the future.”

    Donate Today

    Help us provide shelter during extreme weather events for people sleeping rough in Byron Bay. Please consider donating to this essential project. Click the button below to donate now. We appreciate your support.

    Severe Weather Shelter donations

    Thank you for donating to the Byron Community Centre.  We appreciate your contribution.
    Please note that we use 20% of every donation to help with admin costs. All donations are tax-deductible.

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    Donation Total: $1,200.00 One Time

    Seniors’ Festival 2020

    The Byron Community Centre invites senior community members to celebrate the Byron Shire Seniors’ Festival 2020. 

    Photo: Feather and Nina Mirza.

    The Byron Community Centre is hosting the Byron Shire Seniors Festival as part of the NSW Seniors Festival from 17th – 21st February. 

    “The Seniors’ Festival is dedicated to our wonderful senior community members. The activities offered during this week aim to foster a sense of community and belonging; to empower older people and bring joy to their lives.”, says Pippy Wardell, the Seniors’ Activities Coordinator at the Byron Community Centre.  

    There will be activities throughout the week with a special Mayor’s Morning Tea taking place at the Byron Theatre on Tuesday, 18th of February. The program includes Seniors’ drumming in the morning, followed by the Bay Singers choir and the Morning Tea held in the Byron Community Courtyard where Mayor Simon Richardson will give a presentation. The program finishes with a performance from Studio 55 (Public Act Theatre). 

    For the full program visit the Byron Community Centre website https://byroncentre.com.au/byron-shire-seniors-festival-2020/ or contact Pippy Wardell on 02 6685 6807 or email seniors@byroncentre.com.au.

    Helen Hamilton is Byron’s Citizen of the Year 2020

    Last Saturday, 25th January, our president Helen Hamilton received Byron Bay’s Citizen of the Year 2020 award. This award recognises citizens for their service to the community. 

    To read the full article from Echo Net daily click here.

    Source: www.echo.net.au

    We are very proud of our president, Helen certainly deserves this honour. We want to congratulate all the winners and are especially proud our amazing volunteer Margaret Robinson who received an award for being Volunteer of the Year as she ushers at the Byron Theatre and our wonderful board member Laura Peck for receiving the award for Community Event of the Year with local fundraiser parties Nudge Nudge Wink Wink.

    Photo: The 2020 Byron Shire Citizens of the Year (www.echo.net.au)

    Elder Beats at Beef and Beach

    On Tuesday, 3rd December, our popular seniors’ drumming group ‘Elder Beats’ received a special treat. Beef and Beach restaurant owner Troy Lister generously supported our wonderful group with a special Christmas luncheon. 

    “Elder Beats” drumming session at Beef and Beach restaurant

    The event started in the morning with a drumming session in the restaurant. Followed by a delicious and freshly prepared lunch for 47 seniors and seniors’ activities volunteers. 

    “The event was put together after we hosted another function on reducing ageism in our community and two of the drummers Feather and Nina Mirza were there drumming at 98 ½ years old. It was so inspiring to see our senior citizens bucking the trend and keeping active and social in the community. I thought it would be great to have all the drummers in and then shout them a really nice Christmas lunch, they definitely deserve to be appreciated, said Troy Lister.

    Christmas luncheon at Beef and Beef

    Byron Community Centre general manager Louise O’Connell and seniors’ activities coordinator Pippy Wardell are grateful for the generosity and support they experienced from the local community. 

    “We are truly grateful for Troy’s generous offer to host this year’s Christmas feast and celebration for our lovely seniors at Beef and Beach,” says Louise O’Connell. 

    “It was such a joy to see our fantastic group of seniors and volunteers getting excited about the luncheon,” says Pippy Wardell. 

    “Watching our drumming group perform in the beautiful restaurant that is Beef and Beach was nothing less of spectacular. Everyone had a great time,” she adds. 

    “We want to extend a huge thank you to Troy and his team for this special event and for showing our seniors and volunteers a great time,” says O’Connell. 

    The Byron Community Centre runs a weekly program for seniors which aims to connect older residents and create a sense of belonging. Activities include “Elder Beats – Seniors’ drumming”, Chair Yoga, a choir, ukulele classes and a morning tea. 

    “The Byron Community Centre’s seniors’ program aims to foster a sense of belonging and community connection for older people,” says seniors’ program coordinator Pippy Wardell. 

    For more information about the Byron Community Centre’s seniors’ activities visit https://byroncentre.com.au/community/seniors-activities/

    For more information about Beef & Beach Byron Bay visit https://beefandbeach.com.au/byron/

    Get Online Week

    It’s ‘Get Online Week’ from 14 – 20 October with over 1000 events taking place across Australia and the UK. ‘Get Online Week’ is an international campaign and you can be part of a conversation with organisations across Australia and the UK who are all helping people to get more out of life online. To learn more about ‘Get Online Week’, click here.

    BCC online competition

    The Byron Community Centre is excited to announce that we will be running a competition as part of this international event and in connection with Be Connected. Make sure to participate because we have fantastic prizes to win! The competition is open to everyone who is registered through our ‘Be Connected’ learning portal.

    Simply complete as many courses as possible on the Be Connected Learning Portal during ‘Get Online Week’ and be a winner! 

    The learner who completes the most courses will win a $100 voucher from Three Blue Ducks. The second prize will win tickets to a show at the Byron Theatre and 3rd prize is a collection of organic tea from Fundies. Competition closes midnight 20th Oct. The winners will be notified via email. This event is open to members of the public over 50yrs old who are registered with the Be connected learning portal and have selected the Byron Community Centre as their support centre.

    Not registered in the Be Connected learning portal? Here’s how:

    • Go to www.beconnected.esafety.gov.au/
    • Click the purple Sign in/up button in the top right corner
    • Create an account (this takes 5 min)
    • Choose the Byron Community Centre as your Support Centre (this is important!!)
    • Have a look around the website.
    • Remember your login details