'Very sad': Future of iconic tea rooms in doubt
THE threat of permanent closure continues to loom for Lismore's Red Cross Tea Rooms as volunteer numbers reach an all-time low.
Not to be confused with the Australian Red Cross Blood service, the Tea rooms were established in 1959 to raise funds to support local Australian Red Cross services, by serving cakes, hot and cold drinks and sandwiches to the community at a low cost.
Due to the shortage of volunteers, manager Lynn Felsch was last week forced to heavily reduce the tearoom opening hours and cease Monday trading completely.
"It's very sad," Ms Felsch said.
"When I started 12 years ago we had 38 volunteers, now we have 12.
"We've only been open again for nine months after having to close for six months after the floods. There is a very real chance we will have to close permanently if we can't find more volunteers."
Ms Felsch said she began volunteering at the Tea Rooms to "regain some purpose in her life".
"It feels good to volunteer," she said.
"It's good for people who want something to do in their their life, and it's an opportunity to help people in need. We recently had our former Mayor Jenny Dowell, put her hand up to volunteer, which is amazing."
Ms Felsch said she hoped for another 20 volunteers to join the team, which would eventually enable them to recommence trading five days a week.
"We would welcome help from anyone with a few hours to spare on one or two days a month," she said.
"There is no special training required."
After seeing Ms Felsch's recent call for help on Facebook, Lismore MP Thomas George stopped into the Tea Rooms to show his support.
"I dropped to have lunch and chat with the hardworking volunteers," Mr George said.
"If anyone can spare any time, I encourage you to get in contact - it is up to us to keep this service afloat. This is an important part of our community."
The Tea Rooms are open Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 2pm. Shifts may be three or five hours and groups of friends wishing to work together can be catered for.
To volunteer or for more information contact Ms Felsch on 662176 42 or 0490 147 363, or through the Facebook page Lismore Red Cross Tea Rooms