Toby Prepares Lunch

November 2015 

Toby Potter and his mate Michael Jones have ‘cajoled’ each other into various adventures over the years, with mixed success. So he wasn’t surprised when Michael rang last year and asked him to join forces with a few other mates and do something about family violence. The success of the lunch they ran to raise awareness of family violence, and money for the services to support women fleeing family violence, did surprise him.

Toby, Michael and three other mates, ran the inaugural Fed Up Lunch in February last year at Flemington’s Lightning Stakes Day. The event was a hit and raised $30,000 for McAuley Community Services for Women and will be held again this year on Saturday February 20.

The lunch turned out to be much more than a meal and means of raising money. It became a drawcard event for people, especially men, wanting to take a stand against family violence.

“I was really shocked at the impact of the lunch. I thought this is only a lunch so what’s the big deal. But I think it really meant a lot to people that five young men were taking such a public stand,” Toby said. “I still don’t think we have done anything very remarkable.”

“I guess it has been a vehicle for people who want to do more than just comment on the problem. Coming to the Fed Up event allows people to respond by supporting the lunch and contributing to a support service for women who are fleeing family violence. It’s also a chance to hear an inspiring speaker.”

Toby has also been on a learning curve in the past year. The five men, most mates since their school days at St Leonards, have developed a greater understanding of how diverse abuse can be, recognising the impact of verbal and emotional abuse as well as physical abuse.

Toby, whose wife Alyssa, had twins at the time he was helping stage the first Fed Up Lunch, said the arrival of his two children has also galvanised his determination work against family violence.

“I can’t imagine how hard it must be for children who are exposed to violence in their family and what they must go through,” he said.

Last year’s Fed Up lunch attracted 270 people and Toby and the team are hoping for at least 300 in February  as ticket sales are already doing well. He said they were keen to capitalise on the interest in the event to raise money for McAuley’s safe house.

“We have had so much support from people in a way that we never expected,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support of my wife and family.” Toby said his employer, Southern Cross Austereo,continue to support him by booking tables and coming up with auction items.

To book tickets to the lunch go to www.feduplunch.org.

Caption: Toby with his wife Alyssa, son Jack and daughter Eva.