Interview:

Supporting the Big Group Hug

01 June 2022

Tim Fairclough, Partner, Audit & Assurance |

At BDO's office in Melbourne, we’re committed to building positive relationships with our community and creating opportunities for our people to get involved. Through the Community Care Program, we support various charitable initiatives of Big Group Hug.

Audit Partner Tim Fairclough talks to Bernadene Voss, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Big Group Hug

Big Group Hug was founded by Geraldine Camilleri and Angela Wood eight years ago with the goal of responding to the needs of vulnerable children in the local Melbourne community. Wondering what to do with her young children’s clothing items which were no longer needed, Angela set up a storage solution in her garage, which grew over a short period of time.

Angela soon found out maternal health nurses and other organisations were calling out for donations for the items she was currently storing, to help vulnerable families. It was then that Big Group Hug’s co-founders saw a need within the community and addressed it in the best way they could.

Big Group Hug hold numerous events with the aim of motivating people to donate items and help stock the shelves for those in need. Day-by-day, the team serves the community by responding to what is most needed. The majority of the organisation’s initiatives have a recycling and sustainability theme, emphasising the aim to not only reduce waste and give back to the community, but also contribute to the circular economy.

Like so many organisations in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector, Big Group Hug relies on the generosity and dedication of the approximately 300 volunteers, who generously donate their time to support all aspects of Big Group Hug including working in the warehouses to sort, pack and clean donated goods.

“We have volunteers working on social media, driving our vans, volunteers everywhere doing all sorts of things. The organisation wouldn't function without these incredible volunteers that we have,” explains Bernadene.

When it comes to volunteer sources and recruitment, Big Group Hug call upon organisations such as ‘We Volunteer’, as well as their organisation’s own social media. However, the majority of the team’s volunteers are a result of word of mouth.

“Some people have heard what we've done, and they want to come in and try it out. They end up being there for a very long time. We also have had occasions where people who have been recipients of the material aid have come back and wanted to give back to the community. That is such a wonderful outcome,” said Bernadene.

For Big Group Hug’s leadership team, the completion of their strategic plan which focuses on organisational and environmental sustainability and the recent opening of a new warehouse in Airport West, in collaboration with Caroline Chisholm society, are their next priorities for the future.

“We provide the material aid to help those in need, and I'd like to see us being able to respond in a much more holistic way in other areas that really need it. We encourage people to donate car seats to us that are under eight years of use and haven't been in an accident. This keeps them out of landfill because they do not break down,” continues Bernadene.

If you would like to learn more about Big Group Hug and how you can get involved in the entity’s charitable initiatives, we encourage you to visit their website.