The Clayton Wesley Uniting Church is helping those in need through their congregation who work on community outreach services. For 25 years their fundraising has stemmed from the volunteer-run Goodies Op-shop. The op-shop donates 20% of its’ funds every year to an external charity. Rural and Remote Mental Health were very honoured to be the chosen charity for 2021. We spoke with Geoffrey Bishop, Chair of the Congregation, of the Parish Mission Council about the decision and the church’s extended work.

“The congregation has been actively involved in community outreach programmes for many decades and for the last 25 years our fund raising has centred around our highly regarded Goodies Op-shop which is housed on the church property in what was formerly Sunday school rooms and a gymnasium. Goodies is wholly operated by volunteers (around 35 at present) most of whom are not associated with our church but some are members of other congregations of various denominations.

Most of the funds from Goodies support the work of The Spire Community but 20% of funds are donated each year to external charities and organisations. Many of these are associated with the Uniting Church or the National Council of Churches and support projects in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

We have a number of groups that we support on a regular basis but each year the Goodies Management Committee, of which I am the secretary and our Minister, Rev. Paul Turley, its’ chair, reviews our giving and we seek suggestions from the congregation. One of the groups we have supported for many decades is Frontier Services and in last year’s review, one of our members suggested that Rural & Remote Mental Health would be a good adjunct to the work of Frontier Services. He was aware of the work of the organisation from his time as a school principal in rural and remote areas of South Australia.

Our awareness of mental health issues has been heightened in recent years through the work of Uniting Communities which has an office at the church, and that of The Spire Community. We have a number of clients and volunteers who have mental health issues or live isolated lives because of this or other reasons. We engage with some of these people on a daily basis and some have become valued volunteers. We are aware that living in rural and remote areas, especially during the Covid restrictions, can result in specific mental health issues of which our community needs to be aware”.