16 July, 2019

The ADRA Community Centre in the heart of Blacktown is supporting Sydney’s most vulnerable people. Run predominantly by volunteers, the Centre offers a range of services from food parcels to social work, but is best-known for its free quality counselling.

“Financial stress is common among people who receive counselling from our Centre,” says the Centre’s Supervisor, Grace Copaceanu. “Ensuring that our services remain free – and therefore accessible – is crucial.” To help maintain the demand for counsellors, the ADRA Centre has partnered with the Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP).

Although the Centre’s primary concern is meeting the needs of the community in Blacktown, the Centre is in the unique position where by helping the community, it can also contribute to the training of the next generation of counsellors.

Aaron Connelly, the National Placement Relationship Manager for ACAP, appreciates the Centre’s way of helping his students.

“ADRA’s continuous support and accommodation of our ACAP students does not go unnoticed,” he says.

According to Pamela Lopez, a counselling volunteer at the Blacktown Centre, and to Meghna Datta, who recently graduated ACAP with a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy, ACAP students really value doing a placement with ADRA.

“Students all want to do their placements at ADRA,” says Pamela. “It’s always their first choice.”

ADRA Blacktown counselling volunteer

Pamela Lopez, a volunteer doing her counselling placement at ADRA Blacktown Centre

“It was such a great experience to work at ADRA,” says Meghna. “I have learned so much. If it wasn’t for my full time job I would still be volunteering there.”

But for these students, their time at ADRA isn’t just about finishing their placements.

“What really attracted me to ADRA is the purpose statement,” says Pamela, who is a practising Christian. “Here is something that I really related to. I really want to help these people.”

This is the kind of helping that goes both ways.

There are many ways that you can support the work of the ADRA Blacktown Community Centre. To support financially, you can make a donation here. If you would like to make a contribution to their emergency food parcels, you can drop donations of tinned and long-life goods to the Blacktown Centre at Suite 3, Level 2, 24 Main Street, Blacktown NSW. And, to volunteer your time, especially if you are a qualified social or community worker, please contact the Blacktown Centre directly on 02 9622 7188 or email [email protected].