Volunteering with The Big Umbrella in 2021

Volunteering with The Big Umbrella in 2021

Volunteering with The Big Umbrella in 2021 150 150 Michael Attard

Since my first night volunteering in 2018 with The Big Umbrella team, I’ve never looked back.

In 2018 we spoke about over 100,000 people in Australia being homeless at any one time, while this figure has not been updated since the 2016 Census there is reason to fear the worst after the year many Australians have faced.

The Big Umbrella recycles food waste and provides real meals to Melbourne’s ‘friends on the street’ twice a week. Whilst the meal is always delicious, it is the meaningful interactions that occur here that make this experience so special. It means we can address the social impacts of homelessness as well as the practical challenges.

The most common takeaway for volunteers is that it is addressing the social impact that elicits the strongest reaction. While it doesn’t address the root cause of homelessness and there is no quick fix to be realised; being engaged, giving eye contact, and seeking out meaningful conversations can go a long way.

For the first time since the pandemic began, Viridian staff were able join me and share a meal on the streets and share a yarn with those less fortunate. Watching my colleagues pick right up where we left off to support a cause that means a great deal to me personally really summed up what I love about the culture at Viridian. Having many staff recognised by those they had helped in years past with The Big Umbrella made the evening.

In the years that I have volunteered with The Big Umbrella, I have seen immense growth in the organization and am excited to see what it’s future holds. In recent months, The Big Umbrella has moved into a new home in a Brunswick warehouse which will see activities and community programs scaled up. Most importantly it means a growing ability to help others.

Volunteering with others is an incredible feeling. A couple of hours of effort can make a world of difference to someone else. Whilst the time spent volunteering is a privilege for the Viridian community and time always seems to fly, we hope that our impact on the less fortunate is enduring.

Michael Attard is a Product Services Associate at Viridian Advisory

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