Friday, July 1, 2022

The Winsome Soup Kitchen, a vision of hope at Lismore

Recent stories

John O’Donnell

After a walk along the Wilson River and Leycester Creek near their junction at Lismore, I called into the Winsome Hotel, thinking there might be a drink on hand, as it was close to lunchtime and there was no signage on the hotel indicating any changes in management. 

Winsome Hotel
Source: The Winsome & Lismore Soup Kitchen Inc.

No luck with any drinks, but I met Mieke Bell and she generously donated her time showing my wife and I what was happening on the ground floor after the floods. Mieke is the President of the Lismore Soup Kitchen, she has been President for “a while”, which brought an immediate smile to my face.

The Lismore Soup Kitchen has been serving homeless people of Lismore for over 30 years. Thirteen years ago in 2009, the Lismore Soup Kitchen bought the 3 story Winsome Hotel, built in 1925. It is a pub with no beer, providing a service to the disadvantaged community, with hot lunches daily and transitional housing for marginalised men. This hotel provides accommodation for homeless men in Lismore, there are 18 rooms on the second and third floors of the hotel, available on a needs basis. Of the order of 70 cooked lunches a day are provided at the Winsome, but this number varies.

The Winsome, as it is now called, is located near the junction of the Wilson River and large Leycester Creek system at 11 Bridge St, Lismore. The area was badly affected by the Lismore floods in February and April 2022. The Winsome was badly affected by the February 2022 floods. Flood waters reached the first floor ceiling around 28 February, but not the second floor.

The ceiling and plasterboard have been stripped out of the first floor and the area cleaned and allowed to dry using specialist drying equipment. The natural timber flooring looks great again and old tiles on walls underneath the plaster look and will be retained, highlighting the heritage importance of the hotel. Old metal ceilings visible above the roof battens are also of importance. They will soon be installing the ceiling using a fire rated product.

The kitchen area on the first floor was also badly damaged and a lot of work is underway, fixing walls and floors, and two new fridges and a freezer will be installed.  It is hoped that the gas stoves can be reused.  A doctors room and community nurse/ councillor room is in the process of being installed.

A small team of tradies and volunteer builders are undertaking works. Three travellers in caravans are assisting in this work, greatly appreciated by Mieke. There are opportunities in Lismore for those with building skills that can donate their time.

Tis series of photos highlight the impacts of the floods on The Winsome and works underway.

Mieke notes that The Winsome will reopen as soon as possible and while it may not be totally flood proof it will definitely be flood ready.

As noted on their website, The Winsome relies on donations.  As part of the 2022 Flood Appeal, they currently have several projects in process to help people back into their own homes, aiding with people’s rebuilding needs, and also essential repairs at their two facilities, The Winsome and Mazzer House. Further information is available at: https://www.winsome.org.au/

The works underway provide a great vision of hope for the badly affected community of Lismore.

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