Australia

Food for the soul for rough sleepers

Dug is ready to host 1500 for Christmas lunch in Perth

Just a few years ago Dugarme ‘Dug’ Tassi-e attended his first Mission Australia Christmas Lunch in the Park (CLIP) as one of more than 1000 guests who were experiencing homelessness. Now, three years later, he’s delighted to have been appointed as the first CLIP ambassador.

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“I first attended Christmas Lunch in the Park in 2014. At the time I was sleeping rough and the event served two purposes – it gave me a place to be with people who were travelling the same path while also allowing me to connect to a bigger world through the volunteers and support service workers; and it met a physical need by feeding me on the day and leftovers from the event kept me going for several more days,” Dug said.

“I returned to Christmas Lunch in the Park the following year. By that time, I had housing but probably felt more isolated than ever. It was the connection to other people and the life I was heading towards that I really valued that year.”

“Christmas Lunch in the Park connects us in our humanity.” – Dug Tassi-e

Now in its 42nd year, CLIP provides up to 1500 of Perth’s most vulnerable people a place to share a Christmas meal and receive access to vital support services on Christmas Day. In addition, as Dug discovered, the event can be a life-changing source of companionship.

“Christmas Lunch in the Park connects us in our humanity. It’s the one day when people don’t walk around you but instead are willing to sit down with you and share a meal – and that’s a big thing when you are homeless.”

As the inaugural CLIP ambassador, Dug will provide a unique focal point for the iconic West Australian charity event, having experienced homelessness first-hand spending many years “sleeping rough.” His hope is that, by sharing his story, he will help others realise that “we are all on this journey together and we can all do something to support those rebuilding their lives.”

“It shows how direct support and assistance can help someone get back on their feet, secure a home and turn their life around.” – Jo Sadler

Mission Australia State Director Jo Sadler said Dug represented the community that Christmas Lunch in the Park targets and his role as CLIP ambassador would help strengthen the event’s connection with Perth’s most in-need.

“We are thrilled to have Dug on board as CLIP ambassador. He has faced such adversity to get where he is today. He is a great advocate for people who are homeless, raising awareness of the issue and ensuring that our community understands how they can help to support vulnerable people. With his help, we are reaching out to the people most in need, to invite them to attend this year’s event,” Jo said.

“Dug’s story is truly compelling. It shows how direct support and assistance can help someone get back on their feet, secure a home and turn their life around.”

This year the event will provide gifts for children and Personal Care Packs for adults – a backpack containing a range of essential, everyday personal care items designed to meet the basic needs of those without a permanent home – all made possible by the generous donations of individuals and businesses.

“It’s also a way to show those currently experiencing homelessness what can be achieved when we give and receive.”- Dug Tassi-e

“Christmas represents a time of year when people come together as a community and celebrate all of the reasons to be thankful; however, for many people in financial stress or other precarious situations, it’s an extremely difficult time,” Jo said.

“Whether it’s households struggling on a low income, or people grappling with family conflict or mental illness, the threat of homelessness is very real for many across Western Australia.”

For Dug, returning to CLIP as its first ambassador is an exciting opportunity to give back.

“For me, it’s a way to show thanks to those who were there in the dark days of my homelessness and who have been part of my recovery. It’s also a way to show those currently experiencing homelessness what can be achieved when we give and receive.”

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