Street Eats bringing transformation to the Elizabeth Shopping Centre
Businesses saw young people as threats, now they’re seeing their potential!
Transformation. The word gets thrown around a bit. What is it? Is it possible? Have you seen others around you experience it? Let me inspire and encourage you, as we’ve recently seen a heap of it. When we started at the shopping centre, you could almost smell the attitude of many shop owners, managers, management to the young people who huddled in groups. The divide between rich and poor (or in our case kids with black hoodies with backpacks vs. regular shoppers & retail workers) was real. One glance from a shopper to a yoTransformation. The word gets thrown around a bit. What is it? Is it possible? Have you seen others around you experience it? Let me inspire and encourage you, as we’ve recently seen a heap of it. When we started at the shopping centre, you could almost smell the attitude of many shop owners, managers, management towards the young people who huddled in groups. The divide between rich and poor (or in our case kids with black hoodies with backpacks vs. regular shoppers & retail workers) was real. One glance from a shopper to a young person hanging outside smoking was enough to read their view, opinion and perspective on this young person’s life. Management shared of the theft, violence and negative culture the young people were bringing to the shopping centre. Before our time, to manage the young people they even had a rule instilled where groups of more than 3 young people were separated! How things have changed. We long for God to instill his perspective, his view on humanity in our hearts which is reflected in our outward actions, words, responses. Instead of judgement or giving into the intimidation these young people can give, we gave them time. We shared with them the potential we see in them. This brought change not just to them but the shopping centre.
Theft and violence was decreasing since we started that very first conversation. It was impacting security guards, management , Playford council, churches, and even the public. Since COVID hit, we’ve been unable to gather in the shopping centre but we have been able to develop stronger connections with the shopping centre, retail managers and local businesses. They’ve heard our relational approach to developing trust and calling out potential within the young people and are beginning to personally see the value not only for the young people but also their shop/business impacted. After many weekly connections with the managers, we shared with them how they could get involved to assist us in helping these young people see their full potential. We shared with them a COVID-19 initiative – a 6 week cooking course we’re hoping to launch called Street Eats. We know this would be a complete turnaround – it would mean instead of seeing these young people as threats, they would need to adopt a mentality of ‘hope’ and ‘generosity’ towards these young people. And that’s just what came through. Numerous shops have got behind the Street Eats initiative; donating products, future work experience and potential employment for the young people they once saw as a threat. The Street Eats idea was initially a response for the youth, but we’ve seen God intended it for so much more.
What is Street Eats?
So a few weeks ago a friend on our Streetlight Prayer team sent us a message. She shared with us a God inspired idea. She’s joined our team and is now helping us launch it. Its called it Street Eats.
Street Eats is an initiative being run by Streetlight in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The free virtual cooking program helps young people in Playford optimize their health, grow their skills and combat food insecurity.
In partnering with local Playford businesses and an Accredited Practicing Dietitian Naomi Crosby, Street Eats aims to feed into the lives of Streetlight’s youth through their physical and mental health, financial stress and social wellbeing.
Over a free 6 week program, all participants will receive a box of ingredients delivered to their door each week . Each participant will then join a virtual group cooking tutorial to cook their meal.
This is a FREE Streetlight Community initiative sponsored by local businesses at the Elizabeth shopping centre.