Hawkesbury Helping Hands is a charity in the Hawkesbury region, west of Sydney, NSW. It was established in 2011 by a Windsor resident, Linda Strickland and her then 8 year old daughter Cassidy. It was actually Cassidy that started the idea. She was upset at witnessing someone searching through a nearby rubbish bin for food. She pleaded with her mother to cook something for him. That weekend, Linda cooked some soup and fed four or five homeless people. She did the same the next weekend and the word got around. At the time, Linda had no idea of the extent of the homelessness in the Hawkesbury region – some people were living in tents, vans and even caves. She also learnt of others who were disadvantaged in various ways.

At first Linda bought everything and cooked it – soups, salads and roast dinners. Donations of food then started coming in from cafés and restaurants. She now also receives donations of tents, tarpaulins, blankets, clothes and other needed items. Today she feeds anywhere from 6 to 65 homeless and disadvantaged persons every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. There is a team of 15 regular volunteers who help with the cooking of meals.

Hawkesbury Helping Hands came to the attention of The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church Rapid Relief Team (RRT) who approached Linda to see if there was any way of helping out. A barbecue was suggested, and as Linda didn’t find it easy cooking barbeques for large numbers, she was thankful for the offer – so it was arranged for RRT to help on Saturday afternoon, June 13th, 2015. When RRT arrived with sausages and meat patties they found a donation had been made of salmon, barramundi and prawns as well.

Everyone enjoyed the barbecued food, corn-on-the-cob, salads, pasta and dessert. Linda was very grateful for RRT’s help and a number of homeless people expressed their thanks also.

Linda provided each person with bottled water and a hot cup of tea or soup in an insulated mug to take with them for the night, and the team packed up for the evening.

The RRT further supported Linda and her team the following month, on the 11th of July with another barbeque. Over 200 sausages were cooked, along with 6 dozen eggs, meat patties and diced onion. Food was mostly donated by supportive members of the local community. What wasn’t used, and could be kept, was frozen for the Wednesday lunch.

A ‘Street-Med’ worker was also present providing support to the needy and looking out for any that may need medical help or treatment.
The RRT in the Hawksebury region appreciate the opportunity to show compassion to those less fortunate and to lend a helping hand to Hawkesbury Helping Hands. Support will be continued in the future!

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