Community Spirit Lifting Coffs Harbour through COVID-19

Monday 4 May 2020

Amid the fear and suffering of coronavirus, communities are coming together to support one another.

The staff at Pete’s Place, a Vinnies support service for people experiencing homelessness in Coffs Harbour, have been moved by the flood of donations received from locals.

“The community has come to our aid in such a big way, as they know how vulnerable and isolated our client base must feel,” says Anna Scott, the service’s manager.

“I’m so proud of the Coffs Harbour community, which continues to bring us much-needed donations such as good quality tents, sleeping bags, camping equipment, cleaning supplies and food.” Explains Scott, “As part of a charity we’re on a tight budget and this help makes all the difference, especially with COVID-19 impacting on people’s ability to pay for essentials like food and rent”

One wonderful supporter is Coffs Harbour’s Lailah Whelan, who brings in pots of soup to help feed the many visitors to the centre. This makes a huge difference for the service, which only has a small kitchen to prepare meals.

Lailah Whelan dropping off a hearty homemade soup for those we assist.

Pete’s place is seeing many new faces due to the impacts of COVID-19, including families, casual workers and people stuck due to travel restrictions and is now helping up to 90 people each week day, offering food, showers, laundry and other support.

Maintaining social distancing and hygiene requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic is an additional challenge, addressed through a range of infection control measures such as cleaning bathrooms after each use, and greatly reducing building capacity.

“Many people experiencing homelessness don’t have access to mainstream media messages about the importance of hygiene and social distancing,” Anna says.

"We try to talk to them about the importance of those things, even when they're living in extreme situations. They'd be really at risk if they caught coronavirus."

Sleeping bags and tents generously donated for people sleeping rough.

Despite these challenges, Anna is determined to keep the service open throughout the coronavirus crisis.

"This cohort is already vulnerable and even more so now - they're scared and confused and feel on the outer of our community,” she says.

Pete’s Place is currently open from 8.30am to 1.30pm Monday to Thursdays, and on Friday if needed.

If you’re located in Coffs Harbour, you can help by donating cleaning supplies, sleeping bags, tents and food. Donations can be left at the door at Pete's Place in the Coffs Harbour community village behind Coles.

If you’d like to help support essential services like Pete’s Place through this pandemic, make a donation today.