A $5,000 boost for Walcha Rotary and Simon’s Just 4 U Backpack project, Club Secretary Lois Hare, left, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, project founder Simon Wellings and his mother Rachael and Club President Andrew Corlette.
Monday, 27 September 2021
A HEART-WARMING initiative providing children in foster care with essential items like clothes and toiletries will expand across the New England North West, with Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall today announcing a $5,000 State Government grant to boost the ‘Simon’s Just 4 U Backpacks’ program.
Started by 10-year-old Walcha student Simon Wellings last year, the project sees backpacks filled with items like toiletries and school supplies provided to children who have been rushed into out-of-home-care.
Mr Marshall said the Rotary Club of Walcha was inspired by Simon’s efforts to take the project regional.
“Through this innovation Simon Wellings and his family have been providing children in out-of-home-care with compassion during an incredibly difficult time in their lives,” Mr Marshall said.
“In some circumstances children are removed from their home environment urgently, giving them no time to pack even a toothbrush.
“Through his own family’s experiences with foster caring, Simon identified this need and set out himself to provide bags of essentials, which can be picked up and taken with children at a moment’s notice.
“Now the Rotary Club of Walcha will provide packs to the Department of Communities and Justice to carers for distribution to carers in the more than 15 inland communities in Rotary District 9650.
“I’m pleased to have been able to support the Rotary Club of Walcha’s efforts to grow the program and see a greater number of children in care receive this kindness.
“This small gesture has the potential to make the biggest difference to these vulnerable young people’s lives and I congratulate Simon and Rotary on this partnership.”
Rotary Club of Walcha President Andrew Corlette said the organisation had negotiated to take over and extend Simon’s remarkable initiative and hopefully build it into an annual project.
“Based on advice from the Department of Communities and Justice, the New England region deals with up to 300 foster care placements annually,” Mr Corlette said.
“The children these backpacks support are amongst our most vulnerable. Our project is endorsed by agencies like Challenge and Pathfinders, who through their involvement with Simon’s 2020 efforts, have firsthand experience of the benefit these backpacks bring.
“Should we be able to raise a target of $25,000 we expect to be able to provide ample number backpacks to meet demand. If we achieve this we will then look to expand further into the coastal regions of our district.”