By Rebecca Gelsi, West Footscray Neighbourhood House
When there’s a crisis it can be tempting to batten down the hatches and turn inwards, and in fact that’s what popular culture tells us will happen. However, since our lives turned upside-down in March, so many local organisations and individuals have stepped outside of themselves and looked for the need.
Soul House is our social inclusion group at West Footscray Neighbourhood House, which usually sees locals drop in to us on Thursdays for coffee, some food and conversation. During iso we’ve gone to them, offering supplies and social connection each week. And new connections have come our way, helping meet the need at exactly the right time. Our Soul House worker, Suzanne, had another community partnership to celebrate every week.
300 Blankets, finding that they could not run their weekly community meals in Braybrook, donated food and lent us their volunteers; Pod at Pid provided soup parcels, and as anyone delivering food relief knows, receiving a ready to eat meal is like receiving a warm hug; Barkly Street Grocers, Bharat Traders, Maribyrnong City Council and Aldi Central West donated food; and Reaching Out in the Inner West passed our extra food on through their outreach at Nicholson Street Mall each Monday night.
Local computer scientist Rowan Skewes is passionate about getting people connected through technology and spent his spare time refurbishing unwanted laptops. We rehomed seven of these to support older people to connect to family and friends, and school students to access remote learning.
More than anything, people wanted the social contact that a food drop off brought, and we’re always here for social connection, however that can be delivered.