Socially distant but still connecting
30 March 2020
While the country adjusts to isolation, shortages of basic necessities, shutdowns, job losses and a struggling economy, The Salvation Army is needed now more than ever. Social and economic difficulties are being made worse in this crisis. It is so important to make sure that the harmful impacts of what is happening do not leave those experiencing hardship or injustice even more isolated.
The Salvation Army will continue to provide practical, emotional and spiritual support to all Australians, without discrimination, over the coming weeks and months. We will do this by reinventing and re-imagining the way we deliver our vital services in these uncertain times.
Strict health and safety measures have been developed to protect workers and the people they help, including maintaining social distancing and increased hygiene practices. Phone-based and online services are also being used where face-to-face meetings are no longer possible.
The constraints put in place to contain COVID-19 may have changed some of the methods of delivering services but not the mission. Across the country Salvation Army workers continue to reach out to the community and support the most vulnerable.
Parliament kitchens put to good use
The kitchens at Parliament House in Victoria are now being used to prepare meals for vulnerable members of the community.
In a statement released on the Parliament of Victoria’s website, Legislative Council President Shaun Leane has announced that the commercial sized kitchens should be put to good use during the coronavirus emergency.
The Salvation Army is one of a number of charities that will be working with the Victorian state government to get nutritious meals to people in need.
More than 3,400 meals per day are being prepared through this incredible initiative, which are then distributed through community programs run by the partnering charities.
The initiative also helps retain employment for Parliament House catering and agency staff as well as Victorian food producers and suppliers. All personnel are following the strictest hygiene and food handling procedures to make sure the food is prepared and distributed safely.
“The flexible and nimble response of Parliament House to reorganise themselves so that they will be producing meals for the most vulnerable is deeply appreciated,” said Major Brendan Nottle, commanding officer of The Salvation Army Melbourne and manager of Project 614.
“This gift will ensure that the most vulnerable are not forgotten and their physical and emotional health will continue to be catered for.”
Small connections lead to ongoing support
On Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula, Salvation Army Officer, Captain Peter Hobbs, and his team members have been delivering essential supplies to vulnerable older people who they met while helping at the local supermarket during the special shopping hour for the elderly and people with disabilities.
“Although we have really minimised our community connections during this time, we have a list of people who are really struggling. We are dropping off essential items to them and keeping in touch from a distance,” Peter said.
“We are focusing on letting people know they are not alone and helping to take away some of their anxiety of not having access to essential services.”
In the Illawarra region (NSW), Shellharbour Salvos have put together care packs containing a roll of toilet paper, can of coke, an individually wrapped Tim Tam, magazine and a contact card.
“I have been putting them on people’s doorsteps in the Shellharbour and Kiama area,” said Salvo Lieutenant Paul Farthing. “One lady we delivered to said she worked in a service for the disabled where they’d run out of toilet paper, so she gave them the roll we delivered and we were able to provide some extra rolls for them too.”
Creative thinking in the top end
“We live in a different world here and are in the early stages of our creative thinking in the face of COVID-19,” says Northern Territory Area Officer, Captain Erica Jones.
In Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine and Palmerston, The Salvation Army works with a large Indigenous population, most of whom don’t speak English and don’t use technology.
“The Northern Territory Department of Health has asked us to keep our showers open for our community members, which we are doing. They come in, have a shower, and then we clean and bleach the showers and leave them for 10 minutes until the next people can come in.
“It’s an essential service for community hygiene and cleanliness. So, it’s a slow roll-through. People can also still come in for food.”
The Waterhole community centre in Alice Springs and the Katherine Doorways Hub are still open and providing support for those in need, but the services have been modified to protect workers and the community.
“We have moved Doorways to phone appointments and limited face-to-face appointments to maintain social distancing requirements,” says Erica.