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Fruits for Hallam

Fruit2Work has announced the opening of its Hallam branch on Friday, 16 February, making it the first hub for the organisation in the southeast.

The organisation is a not-for-profit social enterprise, as well as a registered charity that delivers fruit, milk and pantry items to workplaces.

A factor that makes Fruit2Work stand out, however, is that they are known for providing opportunities to those who have been caught in the justice system.

Providing these people with work and helping them turn a new leaf, Simon Fenech, the organisation’s general manager, said that the work is “hard, but rewarding”.

“As someone who has made mistakes, Fruit2Work is created by champions, and a champion in my eyes is someone who has lost their way and decided to do something different,” he said.

Fenech himself had previously been involved with drugs and crime after a workplace accident in 2008, where he found that prescription medication and physical therapy did not ease the pain.

With their other branch catering to Melbourne located in Laverton, this new branch will see a sizeable expansion of their operations and services.

Titled the Lewins Hub, the branch was named after one of the organisation’s members, Lewins Turner.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Turner said that he owes Fruit2Work his life.

“If I didn’t have Fruit2Work I’d be dead, I’ve got pancreatic cancer, you know what I mean?

“There would have been no hope, even when I had my own place I was going downhill,” he said.

Turner came down to Melbourne in 1995 and eventually found himself involved with drugs, until the end of 2018.

When he was looking at going back to jail, Turner then decided to appeal bail and reached out for help through First Step, an organisation that supports people addicted to drugs and alcohol.

It was there that he was suggested to Simon for work.

“I thought to myself that if I don’t do something drastic, I’m going to lose my place, lose my animals, and lose everything.

“I owe Fruit2Work my life, to Simon and Rob who stuck by me – even when there were ups and downs.”

Rob Brown, Fruit2Work’s chief chance creator who had his own challenges with the law, said that the organisation’s vision “resonated personally.”

“To be able to give people a chance, who don’t typically get a chance, made a whole lot of sense.

“Not just because it’s a nice thing to do, but it has societal impact and financial impacts as well.

“The most important thing this hub does is it gives us access to a cohort of people who need a chance to get from here to our other hub in Laverton, it’s too far away,” Brown said.

He added that the southeast provided the organisation with a large number of customers, which with the lack of a hub, made it difficult to cater to from the west.

Narre Warren North MP Belinda Wilson also attended the grand opening and gave a short speech on the organisation’s importance.

“For me, life’s about opportunity and I wouldn’t be in my position without someone believing in me, believing in what you can do, and that’s what this organisation does,” she said.

Ms Wilson was excited about the avenues the new hub could explore, saying that the “opportunities Fruit2Work creates are life changing.”

“By offering the opportunity for employment to people who may not be able to find it elsewhere, Fruit2Work enables them to re-enter the job market and improve the likelihood of rehabilitation.

“It’s my job to advocate for local community organisations to ensure they have the support and resources they need to deliver the essential services they provide to our community,” she said.

For Turner, Fruit2Work is family, people who gave him a chance when he thought it would never come.

“When they said to me that they were going to name the building after me, I couldn’t believe it – I haven’t stopped crying in five days!

“This place has continued to help people, and I couldn’t ask for any better feeling,” Turner said.

 

Source: https://cranbournenews.starcommunity.com.au/news/2024-02-26/fruits-for-hallam/

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