SHOPPING LOCAL AND SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITY

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by AJ Place

‘Time spent at our home in the inner west has become enough; the need to wander, diminished. I have almost come to a standstill; embracing a slower, not smaller, life. By staying local, we shop more consciously, buy and throw out less and reduce wastage. There is an abundance of choice for gifts, homewares, coffee, food, wine and flowers – happy stuff, in our Seddon neighbourhood.’

I wrote this last winter; unwittingly it seems, preparing for this stay home weirdness, less than a year later.

Greatly influenced by self assessment of risk, a potentially dubious measuring tool in itself, there have been two distinct factions; the late in/busting to get out lot, and those who bolted inside early/might not come out ‘til spring, group. Not everyone has had a choice however; health, work, vulnerability, economy and housing forced the hand of many.

Notwithstanding significant restrictions, we have, so far, avoided the full burden of lockdown in Australia. We’re lucky, fortunate, in our privilege to heed the call to stay home. I am very aware of those in our community, not so able.

From the earliest days of the pandemic, people and businesses in the inner west sought to help those at risk. We live among a bighearted community; embracing the notion of ‘paying it forward’ and the generous and kind, who look out for others in need, finding ways to reach out.

Bharat Traders in West Footscray delivered free groceries to elderly and vulnerable people they heard were struggling to access food supplies. SIMS IGA joined them in donating goods and Seddon Community Bank Branch assisted by sourcing donors for the packs. Many volunteers came forward to help, with the City of Maribyrnong taking over the deliveries in their area. Offering free meals for people facing tough times, taking a no questions asked approach, Eka in Seddon have also provided food supplies to international students who have no government help. They have a callout for blanket donations.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre based in Footscray, continues its work protecting people seeking asylum and refugees; the current crisis increasing their risk of extreme hardship. Without access to Medicare and Centrelink, ASRC provides a healthcare safety net. Working with other human rights groups, they urged the government to assist people seeking asylum held in detention centres facing high health risks, due to close living conditions and medical issues. Many of us struggled with the few weeks of having our freedoms curtailed. Imagine. Details on food and financial donations can be found on their website.

West Welcome Wagon, a volunteer run charity supporting asylum seekers in the west with essential and material aid has seen demand for their services more than doubled. Along with an online store, they currently have a fund raising campaign, where financial donations, made via their website, are doubled by another donor until the end of July.

Many small, local businesses pivoted to survive, where they were able, with numerous cafes and restaurants moving to takeaway only, some expanding on this by adding in essential supplies. Gift and book shops offered free local home delivery and grocery stores such as Happy Apple, stepped in to meet the demand for home delivery.

Pompello on Victoria Street has been our go to for fruit, veggies and flowers since we moved into the area. Elliot has come by with our order late in the evening; appearing as upbeat and friendly as if he has just started his day, at what is really the tail the end of many long hours worked. Copper Pot in Seddon commenced a variety of takeaway options, which us self isolators were able to collect without leaving our car.

Early in the stay at home directive, as we were all finding our feet, Sedonia in Seddon, delivered a jigsaw we ordered, with a bonus roll of loo paper and The Sun Bookshop in Yarraville dropped off books bought online; both at no extra cost, and on the same or the next day.

We had a contactless appointment at Seddon Vet via our dog’s attendance in their rooms and phone hook up to us, outside. Shame he used iso life to overplay an injury; as if he wasn’t already getting enough attention with everyone working from home. Not a good boy.

Many businesses have put themselves on the frontline to support their community; we owe them, by keeping our distance while keeping our support as local as we can.

Tentative celebrations of coming through this, (holds breath), are playing out, as businesses slowly invite customers back in and we move to the next stage from stay home to stay safe.

We hope to see all our locals on the other side, when we eventually crack the door ajar, maybe, sometime in spring…

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