“Hey, I’m Dave; pleased to meet you”

YMCA Volunteers
Carol Saffer

Everyone has those days where life is tough, and there doesn’t seem to be a way clear.

People experiencing hardship, homelessness, or disadvantage now have an opportunity once a month to escape, breathe and chill with like-minded others.

“Disco” Dave Gunstone and Sophie Milton, programs coordinator at YMCA Victoria, welcomed eight local people to the first of what they hope will be many Y Monthly Social Nights on Monday, July 4.

Mr Gunstone’s vision for this new social program is for a crowd who are tired, stressed, and experiencing hardship and don’t want to be pushed into anything.

“I thought if I could organise something where people could simply come and relax, chill out in a quiet space and offer them a couple of hours indoors during the winter weather, it could be helpful,” Mr Gunstone said.

“[On the first night] we had some really nice food, and the social was really good, and everyone loved the movie we picked,” he said.

“It was a lovely chilled relaxing night for everybody.”

Mr Gunstone knows from lived experience that homeless and disadvantaged people often need the opportunity to put their feet up and lay back in a quiet social space.

“If we can make them feel better for a couple of hours, hopefully, they might like to come back,” he said.

It’s about being with others who may have experienced similar things in life and not feeling isolated or judged.

Most importantly, there is an understanding around respect and privacy; you know where you sit with anyone.

“Afterwards, you have something to look forward to and something nice to talk about,” he said.

“A hot meal can make a program better and more comfortable; YMCA takes care of the costs.”

However, Mr Gunstone said more volunteers would be very welcome.

“Things like helping to cook and serve the food would be a big help,” he said.

The Y Monthly Social Nights are held at the Carlton Baths, 248 Rathdowne St, Carlton, on the first Monday of every month from 6pm to 9pm.

The free event is open to anyone aged 18 and over and is an alcohol and drug-free space.

For more information, contact Sophie Milton on 0414 767 724 or “Disco” Dave Gunstone on 0401 802 548.

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