Federation University teachers get ‘back on the tools’ to bring some home comforts to Uniting’s Reids Guest House in Ballarat


May 25, 2023

Three cabinet making and joinery teachers from Federation TAFE have teamed up using their skills to build wardrobes, desks and bedside units to refurbish more than 30 rooms at Uniting’s Reids Guest House in Ballarat.

The completed furniture, using materials donated by Laminex, is being delivered and donated to Reids this morning. Built in 1886, Reid’s Guest House started out as a gold rush coffee palace of the temperance movement before becoming a refuge for those in need of a place to stay.In February last year, a fire broke out on the lower floor of the building causing significant structural and electrical damage to the residence hall and the evacuation of more than 53 guests and staff.

After a major renovation, including a new multifunctional group space for activities and meetings, refurbished kitchens including new fridges, freezers, benches, and sinks, new laundries, upgraded bathrooms, common areas and CCTV and fire safety systems, it reopened last November. Federation TAFE cabinet-making and joinery teachers, Damien Coats, Ben Curtis and Colin Trembath donated their time and skills to make the furniture for the rooms.

“The local community is very important to Federation TAFE and it is really pleasing to be able to utilise our resources and skills and partner with other organisations to undertake this community service project for Reid’s Guest House,” Mr Coats said.

“Uniting’s work providing shelter to those in need is critically important and we’re pleased we can supply furniture to make guests feel more comfortable.”

As well as providing people experiencing homelessness with a place to stay at Reids, Uniting offers guests wraparound support services to address their other needs, such as mental health.
Reids manager Daniel Hemming said the furniture will help provide guests with a more comfortable and welcoming environment.

“Reids is about providing not only a roof over people’s heads, but also a safe and supported environment where they can access the support they need,

” Mr Hemming said. “We’re extremely grateful to Federation TAFE not only for their work with this project, but for their ongoing support of Reids which includes their Bakery Training Centre donating baked goods to our kitchen for our guests to enjoy.”

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