Burwood Community Welfare Services Inc began in 1968 when a group of local community members joined forces with the then Mayor of Burwood, the Late Alderman Keith Smith, and the Mayoress, Alderman Bonnie Smith, and established ‘Burwood Aid Services’. In 1976 the service expanded and became known as Burwood Information and Aid Centre.
During the next 10 years, led by local volunteers Fred and Jean Skead, and with the dedication and hard work of over 60 volunteers, the Centre provided information to local residents on child care, youth services, accommodation, legal aid and ethnic services. The Centre also provided a ‘Meals on Wheels’ service and recreational activities for the aged community in the Burwood area.
The Centre was also a welcoming place for members of the community who could visit knowing they would be greeted with a friendly smile and offered a cup of tea.
As Philip Taylor, Mayor of Burwood at the time stated – “The idea behind all these programs is to form friendship groups among people who would normally be isolated from the community.”
In 1988 the service moved to the Bicentennial building, ‘Skead House’, and is now known as Burwood Community Welfare Services Inc. (BCWS Inc). The service provides specialised services such as the Family Support Service, Women’s Domestic Violence Court Support Services, Food Service (Meals on Wheels) and generalist counselling to residents of the Inner West.
In 2008 Skead House Neighbourhood Centre Building at 45 Belmore St Burwood was literally sold out from under us. BCWS relocated to Wyatt Ave in January 2013.
Burwood Community Welfare Services is unique in that its history of change is an important part of its reality. For the future, learning from this history of change, will help equip those who represent BCWS for the next decade, as it will remind us of the purpose and focus of Burwood Community Welfare Services. I believe drawing on the past will keep BCWSInc and its programs safe and on track for the future.
The General Manager of Burwood Council, who understood our plight made plans for us to be relocated to 2 Wyatt Ave. Burwood. A lease was signed between the (Church of England Homes) Kids @ Weldon and Burwood Community Welfare Services Inc. and a Funding Agreement between Burwood Council and Burwood Community Welfare Services Inc. for a 5×5 year lease on Wyatt Ave. The biggest problem remains is the distance of this new location from the Burwood CBD, one which all, an especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged people have found difficult to access. Continued researching of grants for funding of a bus at times has been more than challenging.
While BCWS has changed significantly since its establishment in 1968, it still has the same commitment and dedication to assisting residents in the Inner West. Staff and volunteers still have a strong sense of caring and social justice and are devoted to providing the highest standard of support and service to all who utilise its service. There’s still a warm smile to greet you at the front door, the hospitality of a cup of coffee or tea and a friendly chat with staff who are ready to listen.