Christmas time brings out the warm glow of giving. We find ourselves stopping to think more of others and how hard it must be for those doing it tough, especially at this time of year. There is a young man called Daniel Stanfield who exemplifies the gift of giving, through his fish and chip shop on the main street in Nambour.
by Rebecca Mugridge
You can smell the tantalising cooking smells as you walk down the street to Nambour Fish and Chips and owner Daniel Stanfield’s smile is warm as he greets his customers.
At just 27 Daniel owns a business in Nambour. A town that was once a bustling and thriving hub and Daniel would know – he was born there, at the Nambour Hospital.
“I lived my first few years in Nambour and then grew up in Diddillibah before moving back to Nambour. I was around when all the cane trains would go through. It was good fun back then, productive and practical.”
Daniel speaks with a weight of experience even at his young age as he shares that running a business is not for the faint-hearted. Like all local businesses, he relies on the support of the townspeople to keep going, explaining there is an unpredictability of sales and customers in a small town, but Nambour has an amazing town spirit.
“We run a week night with two people and sometimes that is too many people and sometimes not enough. You just don’t know. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are our busier times and it can be either really busy or really quiet. And there is no reason behind it. That’s the challenge.”
Daniel greatest achievement isn’t his business though, rather it is an idea he had to help the local homeless in Nambour. A small idea that has now served 1100 meals to the homeless and raised awareness of their plight in the community.
His passion for his project draws you in, his whole face tells the story of his genuine kindness and desire to help people.
Sidesh Naikar, Branch Manager Housing and Homelessness Policy, said the homeless population in Australia includes some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
He points out that homelessness is rarely the result of a single event, action or issue. “It is often the result of a complex interplay of structural, institutional, relationship and personal factors.”
The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census estimated 116,427 people were experiencing homelessness. In Queensland alone the number of older homeless women increased by nearly 33% between 2011 and 2016.
According to the Australian Government’s 2018 data there are also 189,000 Australians that are on social housing waiting lists. The main causes of homelessness are poverty, unaffordable rents, and family violence.
When Daniel decided as a local food business he wanted to help some of the local homeless somehow, he had no idea his idea would take off like it did.
Some 1100 meals later, he is proud of what they have achieved and says the process from idea to deliverance was more complicated than he first expected, and a lot of thought went into it.
“It’s a huge thing for someone to come up and say I’m really struggling, so how do you make it not a shameful process for people to go through?”
The process is completely non-judgemental, using Daniel’s innovative idea for vouchers that are pinned to a notice board that the homeless or anyone struggling can come in, pull one off and take the counter for a free meal and cold drink.
For just a $3 donation, anyone can sponsor a meal for a homeless person. It is an easy, friendly process for someone in need to get a meal. Daniel says it doesn’t fix complicated problems and the homeless issues, but it does help in a small way, even to brighten someone’s day.
It was simple and effective, but like everything not without its flaws at first. Daniel says that was also a huge learning curve.
“Around three to four months in we realised there were a lot of kids who were abusing the system but then there was also a lot of kids that live in some really difficult situations and benefited from it too.
“So how do you make a system that is open for everyone to use but is also not abused? I came up with a simple idea. It would be open to anyone to use but people under 18 have to talk to us first. It means we either scare them off if they were just going to scam the system or we get to know them, get to know a little bit about their backstory and they get a meal out of it at the end.”
As soon as it was implemented, Daniel explains, they started having all these conversations with a lot of kids who did need it. Kids who opened up really appreciated being able to drop in anytime, without judgement and get a meal.
“Some have become regulars now, so we know a bit of their story and they have a safe space to come. That’s what it is all about.
“One person that came through recently said he hadn’t eaten in two days. Yes, systems where you are helping people, you are going to also get taken advantage of but it’s worth the occasional being taken advantage of to reach people like that,” Daniel smiles.
Sunshine Coast community locals can help Daniel feed more homeless people this Christmas by dropping by Nambour Fish and Chips on Currie Street in Nambour and sponsoring a hot meal and cool drink voucher for just $3.If you or someone you know is struggling with homelessness there are a range of services out there to help: sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Living-and-Community/Community-Safety/Homelessness