LOCAL real estate agents have joined the Bellarine Salvos on the frontline for the month of June. Ray White Drysdale agents are providing volunteer hours to join the Salvos Outreach Van and give back to the community. Director Travis Smith said the partnership has been ongoing for many years with their support now ramping up. “I’m a big believer in digging into your own pockets and getting your hands dirty,” he said. “We thought rather than just giving money there was volunteer time we could give too. “Unfortunately we are in the industry causing high-cost housing and there are people being displaced.” Bellarine Salvos captain Peter Hobbs said he was grateful for the ongoing support. “Travis is a part of the Salvos family, he has built his business and along the way he has been a financial supporter, an emotional supporter and a friend,” he said. “He has a bigger team now and wants to make sure the culture is about supporting and giving back to the community.” The Outreach Van has been running for more than eight years on the Bellarine Peninsula with the aim to make contact with vulnerable people experiencing homelessness or isolation. “A lot of people who have a house are just getting by and all their money is going on rent,” he said. “They don’t get to eat so we support them with food, supplies but more often than not they need a listening ear and confidence to keep going and make their own positive choices.”
Mr Hobbs said there is a greater need for housing and support on the Bellarine Peninsula than ever before. “Our Salvos Connect Services are overwhelmed with the number of calls coming from people desperately looking for houses,” he said. “There is virtually no affordable housing on the Bellarine for single parent families and people on pensions. “The agents are working in this environment, they work with housing – they see the pressure first-hand. “They as a group can’t control the market, but they can be involved in making sure people get the support they need.” The duo are in the midst of creating a network for businesses to get involved in donating and working with the Bellarine Salvos, with Mr Smith hoping it can one day be used to source low-cost social housing. “It’s called ‘It Takes a Village’ and it will connect business leaders from the region,” Mr Smith said. “We want a network of around 100 businesses to not only financially support but engage in the projects. “We still haven’t cracked low-cost housing, it’s just a matter of finding the land which is the biggest cost component. “Hopefully one day, through It Takes A Village, we can raise half a million dollars to buy land, build a house and get a fully assisted program going.” Mr Smith said it was important for his team to try and prevent community members from “falling through the cracks”. “For now, we will help out with the Outreach Van, give a few blankets, a bit of food and some time,” he said.