By Danielle Kutchel
A Narre Warren based non-profit dedicated to giving those in need a helping hand is now looking for one itself after being ordered to close one of its key operations.
Bk 2 Basics Melbourne announced in a Facebook post last week that the City of Casey had ordered it to close its community food pantry, which is being run from a residential address.
The charity’s founder, Kelly Warren, said she had been told they needed permits to run the pantry.
“It’s the law apparently that because we’re in a residential area, we require permits. They’re classing us as a business – we’re a not for profit but we’ve got ‘incorporated’ after our name so they’re classing us as a business.”
She said she had been told that if the organisation could find commercial or industrial premises they wouldn’t require a permit – but added this was currently out of reach of a charity that relies on donations.
“We’re a not-for-profit, we get no funding. I can look at a premises, but I can’t commit,” Ms Warren said.
“It’s not only a shame for us, that we’ve built this charity over three years – it’s the people we help.”
Originally Ms Warren was given until June 26 to close the pantry’s doors – but the City of Casey provided a two month extension, giving the charity until August 26 to find a suitable place to continue running the service.
While some businesses and churches have offered their space, she said it wouldn’t be viable to share a space with them given the volume of food she provides and the necessity of packing it up if she were to use someone else’s space.
“We need somewhere where we open the doors, let people through, then shut them at the end of the night,” she said.
In a statement, Casey mayor Amanda Stapledon said the council appreciated the assistance Bk 2 Basics provides to vulnerable members of the community.
“Unfortunately, Council has been responding to complaints about this establishment due to operations being undertaken from the premises (located within a residential court) 24 hours a day.
“Council is currently investigating other not-for-profit local organisations that Council could link Bk 2 Basics with to ensure their charitable work can continue.”
Meanwhile, Ms Warren vowed to keep fighting to continue her work.
“I’m not going to go down without a fight. It’s never about me and has never been about us; it’s about the people we help.”