Help for a Young Family Struggling Through Coronavirus

Wednesday 8th April 2020

With a baby on the way and a toddler at home, it was terrible timing when the coronavirus caused Mark to lose his job.

To make matters even worse, his pregnant wife, Michelle, is a nurse and working in a hospital during the pandemic.

When Mark first lost his construction work a month ago, the family tried to make do.

“At first it was OK, but then when the savings went it was a challenge to balance everything, especially with my pay which is fortnightly,” Michelle said. “And so now it’s the sole income that will pay bills, rent and everything else. And with a baby on the way and a son as well, it’s quite hard.”

Michelle now has no choice but to keep working until July, when the baby is due. Meanwhile, Mark has tried multiple times to access income support payments through Centrelink – waiting for long periods on the phone and in a queue outside his local service centre – but has been told there are complications because of an outstanding tax return. Michelle believes that’s an error.

“It’s frustrating because Centrelink is not really assisting us at the moment,” she said. “They have turned around and said that he didn’t do his tax return – it’s been almost a year and you’re telling us that now?”

Having spent their savings and run out of money to put food on the table, Michelle and Mark came to Vinnies. We immediately provided them with food, nappies and supermarket vouchers, as well as help paying for their electricity and mobile phone bills, plus petrol for the car.

Michelle visiting one of our Vinnies centres to pick up food and groceries.

Being able to use the car again means that Michelle won’t have to catch the train home after her late-night shifts at the hospital. It will also help keep her and the growing baby safe.

At a time when nurses should be receiving thanks and praise for their selfless work containing the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelle says they are encountering abuse instead.

“If you leave the hospital in your scrubs, people class you as dirty because they think you’re going to be carrying the COVID-19 virus. Some people spit at us. It’s starting to get to the point now where we’re being asked to change into our normal clothes before we leave, for our safety.”

She was relieved when she went to pick up the supplies from Vinnies, still dressed in her nurse’s scrubs, and “they treated me like a normal person”.

“They were really approachable. As soon as we got talking it was like, I felt really relaxed. I just felt comfortable talking with them.”

Michelle says it’s been “really scary” working on the frontline of the pandemic. “People don’t realise how serious it can get, and then when you see it first-hand, it’s like wow, OK.”

Essential supplies being packed up in the family car.

Although she’s daunted by what lies ahead, she is comforted knowing that Vinnies will be there for her growing family.

“I’m really so appreciative, it’s helped us amazingly. We’re just so thrilled that a place like Vinnies can offer so much support to a family.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty due to the coronavirus, you can call Vinnies for support on 13 18 12.