Family Life in Melbourne’s southeast was founded in 1970 by local residents and volunteers wanting to provide support to strengthen families and enable children to thrive.
In 1972, they opened their first Community Opportunity Shop in Hampton to support their work.
Over the decades, government funding has enabled significant expansion of Family Life’s services.
Together with ongoing help from philanthropists and the community, this support has ensured the delivery of professional and quality support for families across the Bayside, Kingston and Mornington Peninsula areas of Melbourne.
Everything Family Life does is underpinned by the ethos that every family deserves to live in a safe and supportive community.
This is carried out through their family and individual support services, community strengthening programs, a network of Family Life Community Op Shops, and with a vibrant, engaged volunteer community and passionate skilled staff.
Family Life offers a wide breadth of services, including parenting and outreach support programs, Mental Health and counselling services, Family Violence support, social inclusion programs, community education activities and many more.
In 2021/2022, 11,331 individuals accessed support in some capacity from Family Life.
The wonderful volunteers, especially those who assist and work in the Family Life Community Op Shops, are at the heart of Family Life’s mission.
CEO Allison Wainwright said: “We have focussed our social enterprise thinking beyond income generation and environmental outcomes, to measurable impacts in the reduction of loneliness and social isolation, and community strengthening which will influence future programs.”
Family Life Community Op Shops provide valuable connections for the community, which for older adult community members can help to reduce loneliness and improve well-being, both physically and mentally.
Post-lockdowns, the re-engagement of volunteers was a significant focus, with numerous activities undertaken.
Family Life Community Op Shops hosted morning teas to welcome back or encourage new volunteers, some of whom experienced isolation and fear due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021/2022, Family Life volunteers were provided with training sessions to support connection and opportunities to gain more skills.
They continued with a craft group and gardening club initiated during lockdowns. They hosted a high tea and fashion event for 200 guests.
Family Life Community Op Shops are a social enterprise committed to making a positive environmental impact by selling new and pre-loved goods.
This also supports raising much-needed funds for Family Life’s community programs that help local children and families.
Many vulnerable community members and families are still struggling in a post-pandemic environment.
Family Life strives to continue developing innovative solutions and ways to provide positive community change and improved outcomes for local children and families.
Ms Wainwright said that the COVID-19 pandemic is still bringing to light the value of Family Life’s comprehensive suite of wrap-around support services.
“As we continue to adjust to living in a post-pandemic world, providing our services, fostering connections and supporting community engagement for our families is now more important than ever,” Ms Wainwright continued.
Throughout November, Family Life is accepting donations to distribute to vulnerable families via their Community Christmas Appeal.
“By supporting our Community Christmas Appeal, and donating toys, food hampers or financial donations, our community members can help to spread Christmas joy to those who really need it this holiday season,” Ms Wainwright added.
If you would like to get involved with the Community Christmas Appeal, learn about any of the programs and services offered or become a volunteer at one of the Family Life Community Op Shops, you can find more information on the website: https://www.familylife.com.au/