Salvos serve the community as COVID-19 continues to affect Australia
15 September 2020
As Australians experience a continued period of COVID-19 lockdown, quarantine and movement restrictions, concerns for their physical and mental wellbeing has been paramount for Salvation Army expressions across the nation.
Despite the unrelenting challenges, The Salvation Army has continually stepped up to serve, with enormous support from the wider community. Below are some of the ways Salvos have been helping those doing it tough in these difficult times.
Metropolitan Melbourne is currently under strict stage four lockdown, but that has not dampened the community’s spirit. Residents at The Open Door homelessness accommodation centre in North Melbourne decided to get crafty for a cause and made 20 masks for their community after their local Salvos started a sewing group. Meanwhile, Victorians outside of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are back in Stage 3 lockdown, and can only go outside for essentials, health care, work and exercise. Members at the Delacombe Corps near Ballarat sewed and delivered over 400 masks to local services and nursing homes. The movement has become a community effort – with the thrift store donating material, and local services ensuring masks reach people in need.
Since the end of March, a collaboration between South Barwon Salvos youth worker James Ashley, local businesses and a group of students at Surf Coast Secondary College in Torquay has resulted in the students preparing over 2000 meals for vulnerable families that reside in one of the country’s lowest socioeconomic communities.
Meanwhile, at Sunbury Corps, in Victoria’s north-west, Andrew Webb and his team have found ways to care for and connect with community members through text messages, YouTube videos, Zoom catchups and online meetings. They have also created custom-built care packs with essential needs, which are dispersed in cooperation with the local Rotary club across the region.
With the spike in unemployment and domestic violence incidents since COVID-19 began, The Salvation Army has deployed additional services, resources and personnel to help those affected.
Out of all those provided with assistance, 30 per cent of people were helped with emergency relief and financial counselling. The Salvos have provided over 35,000 sessions of care through family and domestic violence services between January and June this year and engaged with over 53,600 job seekers through the Employment Plus program.
Sharing hope in metropolitan Melbourne
In the heart of Melbourne, The Salvation Army’s Project 614 team celebrated 500,000 meals coming out of the Parliament of Victoria kitchens since December, in a Salvo-led initiative to feed the city’s homeless. The meals are dispersed through a coalition of seven services including Project 614, which send out the meals in food parcels and as takeaway meals three times a day from their premises.
Additionally, to help vulnerable people feel connected to the community in the time of COVID-19, they have also restarted Bourke Street’s Friendship Club over the phone. “We are offering friendship and connection in a fairly wobbly time,” said Brendan. The friendship club has the potential to reach up to 2.3 million Australians who currently live alone, and crisis calls will be referred to Lifeline and Beyond Blue.
As per latest figures, The Salvation Army had provided $1.2 million in additional funding to support 2000 Victorians experiencing homelessness and is also part of the Hotels Homelessness Emergency Response – ensuring that the immediate and long-term physical, emotional and spiritual needs of residents are met at five hotels across seven locations.
New South Wales
In New South Wales, several Salvos corps have organised socially distanced mask-making craft days, to send masks to Victoria and to vulnerable people within their communities.
Down in Macarthur, Captain Nicola Poore collaborated with two schools in the area to put together 20 hampers for families in need during COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Rockdale Salvos in Sydney’s south, opened a COVID-19 compliant low-cost food market to cater for the increase in need being experienced by people affected financially by the pandemic. “With COVID-19… we noticed a different demographic of people needing assistance and help ... people that have lost their jobs that have never needed assistance before”, said Hayley Grigg, Rockdale Corps Connect Team Manager.
The low-cost food market works in a complementary way with Salvos Store, Doorways and Moneycare – all of which are also located in the same building, to support families and individuals struggling to make ends meet on a week-to-week basis.
Multiple schools in southern Western Australia have thrown their support behind The Salvation Army in these challenging times. St. Stevens K-12 School in Duncraig donated a large collection of toiletries and $1300 worth of non-perishable food items. The school also had a group of Year 10 students engage with the Salvos across two days – participating in several community-focused workshops and spending time at Heathridge Corps, where they utilised the kitchen to prepare meals for clients.