Help on the South Coast When Needed Most
Wednesday 24 June 2020
In a time where disadvantage and social isolation have been amplified for the most vulnerable in our communities, we’ve continued providing the same compassion, friendship and support that we’re known for across the state. In the Illawarra Region, our network of volunteers and staff have been working in line with restrictions since the pandemic began, to make sure those who need it can always get care and support.
When other services in the region closed their doors, our Coniston Hub remained open 5 days a week to make sure there was a clean, safe and warm space for people to access food, case management and see a friendly face. People come to our hubs in varying circumstances, from sleeping rough or in insecure housing, to families and the elderly struggling to make ends meet. Hub case workers connected with clients from home, to help them with accommodation, essential supplies and health and mental health services as needed throughout the pandemic.
As the need of local community increased, our Coniston Hub staff and volunteers made and distributed over 1200 meals in 8 weeks to locals in need of extra support. With many international students experiencing hardship at the nearby University of Wollongong, we worked with them to provide food relief, connecting students with our hub and delivering fresh bread to those staying on campus.
Protected by aprons, masks, and double-strength gloves, our Illawarra Shoalhaven Vinnies Van staff and volunteers continued to deliver meals, sandwiches, snacks, drinks, fresh fruit & vegetables, bread and essentials four nights a week throughout Wollongong, Warrawong, Albion Park and Bellambi. While less came out to meet the van at the peak of the crisis, we would often still see up to 30 people, maintaining social distancing measures while offering that social connection.
Throughout this time it’s been amazing to see the Illawarra Shoalhaven community come together in new ways to make sure nobody gets left behind. A group of caring locals worked together to knit beanies and scarves for visitors to the van, a much sought-after item as the days grew colder on the South Coast. We also had help with food supplies from Ozharvest, Secondbite, Aldi, David Jones, as well as local clubs WIN Entertainment Centre, Shellharbour Club and West Leagues Club, who generously provided fresh produce for the Van and hubs. Quilton and 360 also helped with daily living supplies, at a time where essentials like toilet paper were scarce and expensive.
We are so grateful for the amazing support of our staff, volunteers, partners and donors who allowed us to continue providing these essential services during a truly critical time. If you’d like to help support vulnerable locals in the Illawarra Shoalhaven area, and all across the state, you can: