Welcoming Asylum Seeker Families to the West

Chris Scerri (centre) with the team of staff and volunteers at the West Welcome Wagon warehouse in Sunshine West.

Helping his mother move into an aged care facility a few years ago, Chris Scerri discovered the West Welcome Wagon that helped take on some of his mother’s furniture and household goods and distribute them to asylum seeker families starting out life in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

“I had not long retired and my mother was in a home in Sunshine so I decided to keep busy and volunteer with the West Welcome Wagon sorting out donations, fixing furniture or testing electrical equipment before they were distributed to our clients,” Chris explains.

In time, Chris began to utilise his experience in the corporate sector to help with the business development, operations and management of the organisation and is now the Chairman of the board.

“It is an extremely rewarding experience to serve along with all the other volunteers. Apart from one staff member, we are entirely run by volunteers and have grown to support 700 households in the region. We couldn’t have done it without the support of all our wonderful volunteers out here in western Melbourne,” says Chris.

Responding to the safety concerns due to the COVID19 pandemic, West Welcome Wagon has altered its operations to ensure the safety of its staff and volunteers first. Donations are now only accepted on an appointment basis and all donated items are “quarantined” in one warehouse where they are cleaned and disinfected before being stored for later distribution. They have also limited the amount of volunteers in the warehouse to ensure safe social distancing is maintained. However, they have grand plans for the future and are always looking for volunteer roles, working from home, in the warehouse and delivery drivers.

If you would like to volunteer with West Welcome Wagon, get in touch with them at volunteer@westwelcomewagon.org.au or donate items by first contacting donate@westwelcomewagon.org.au. Check them out on the web or Facebook.

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