Our Emergency Relief Centre’s were a godsend for locals who found themselves suddenly unemployed, or ineligible for welfare, international students stranded without income, those unexpectedly on the verge of homelessness and families that had never faced struggles like this before. In reaching out, they found that a meal was just the tip of the iceberg of the support available to them. They found themselves connected to Anglicare Victoria’s extensive network of dedicated staff, volunteers and support.
Connection and support in a socially-distanced world
Anglicare Victoria’s emergency relief services and Diocese and Parish Partnership run programs adapted quickly to meet public health guidelines and the increased demand during the pandemic. Social distancing and regular sterilising of surfaces became standard protocol. Isolated families collected care packages at our locations by appointment to reduce crowds and gatherings. Phone orders helped to reduce anxiety for clients, who were able to consider their needs from the security of their home and spend less time in lines.
“I dropped off an ER package to a husband and wife from Syria. They warmly greeted me. The wife was unwell and they needed money for rent, bills and medicines. To stay safe, they had not been out for months. They were very much alone. I gave them parcels and food vouchers. There were tears of gratitude, thank-yous and smiles. It was a small gesture that made a real difference.” – Lisa Foley, Regional Director Southern Metro region.
With the support of volunteer drivers and staff, the program quickly added home deliveries of food and hygiene products to our more vulnerable individuals or those placed in temporary accommodation. These visits also provided a much appreciated – albeit socially distanced – face-to-face connection for those living alone or experiencing poor mental health. As essential services, following the initial lockdown our centres reopened to provide face to face services and are staffed to provide access to food, meals and support.
Michelle, a mother of three boys, visits Mission House regularly. All three of her children display hyperactive behaviour and struggle with schooling. Their father helps where he can, but has a disability so there are limits to how he can help. Michelle comes in for support but stays for the conversation – or at least she did before COVID-19. She is always incredibly grateful. When Michelle had no way to pay her bills, we provided financial counselling, food vouchers and access to financial assistance.
Theresa*, a mother of two, enrolled at university to retrain for her dream career. When her husband became unwell she had to take on a part-time job. Then Covid-19 hit and both her work and university closed. The household expenses began to pile up while the two parents struggled with home schooling. When Theresa arrived at Anglicare Victoria’s emergency relief centre, she asked for some groceries to support her family. What she didn’t expect to find was financial support, referrals to mental health support, and the comfort of knowing that she is not alone.