Events & news Community newsroom Comfort Kitchen returns with an important twist One of Hervey Bay’s best loved weekly events is about to relaunch, with an important difference. Comfort Kitchen will return to the Hervey Bay Community Centre as a sit-down meal on Wednesday, April 14. To add even more value to this free community meal, a range of support services will be on hand as part of a new “community services hub”, providing advice, connection and referrals to people in need. Services will include tenancy and homelessness advice, mental health support and medical consultation and treatment. The idea for the community hub came from Ciaran Higgins, homelessness outreach worker at Community Housing Limited. Ciaran has worked tirelessly in recent months to connect people affected by the ongoing housing crisis with support services. Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre operations manager, Christian Berechree, said it had been a bumpy road for Comfort Kitchen, with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis making things uncertain. This meant the meal had twice been scaled back to takeaway only, since the pandemic took hold at the start of 2020. While Comfort Kitchen has continued, uninterrupted, as a takeaway service, Christian said it was time to bring back the dine-in element. Comfort Kitchen volunteers Stephen and Toni with team leader, Wayne Martin. NB: Photo taken before masks were made mandatory. “Comfort Kitchen has always been more than just a meal. It’s a place for people to find connection, support and community,” Christian said. “We’re confident now is the time to get this important community meal back up and running as it should be. “Adding the community services hub into the mix will make this event more crucial then every before as our region’s post-COVID recovery continues.” The community services hub will be a relaxed environment, with no pressure to engage with any of the service providers. Christian assured guests they could just come for the meal as they have always done, if that is their preference. “We want to make the service providers available in a centralised, low-pressure environment for those in our community who need to access them,” he said. “Accessing services can be confronting and confusing and we want to remove those barriers as best we can.” There is no need to book for the event, which will run from 4-6pm every Wednesday evening, starting from April 14. Sign-in will be required, however, for contact tracing purposes. For more information, visit www.hbnc.com.au/comfort-kitchen.