The Mirror News

Communities offer “comforts and hopes” during COVID-19 times

• Manna Gum Community House office administrator Sheryl Lorenz and community development director and manager Bec Matthews are pictured in the temporary Food Bank set up at Manna Gum, one of the many services available to help support local people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its isolation and distancing rules.

ENGLISH statesman and philosopher Francis Bacon once wrote that “…adversity is not without comforts and hopes”, and Corner Inlet’s communities are certainly rallying to offer both during these strange times of COVID-19.

While the pandemic’s alarming infection and death rates have forced people across the world to stay home and to keep their distance, the local district has responded with even more true and practical human kindnesses than usual.

Meals, newspapers and flowers brought to the homes of those in enforced or voluntary isolation, a broken walker repaired, parcels delivered, a telephone call made to find out how someone alone is going; these are just a few examples.

Manna Gum Community House in Foster has been central to the emergency relief, support and advice now available to anyone from throughout the district who has found themselves requiring help.

Manna Gum community development director and manager Bec Matthews said that while the Community House has had to follow the COVID-19 restrictions, “we are continuing to provide services to the local community.

“Among these is making up and delivering care packages of essential items for people in isolation at home in the Corner Inlet district, including Welshpool, Yanakie, Fish Creek and Toora, as well as in and around Foster,” she said.

“We’ve had lots of calls from community members who are prepared to volunteer and help people in isolation with daily errands such as grocery shopping, and we’re in the process of setting up a service to match volunteers with people in need.

“A temporary Food Bank has been set up here, and, because of an increase of generous donations from the community, fresh fruit and vegetables are now included in our food relief packages,” Bec said.

“We’ve even got ‘Who Gives A Crap’ toilet paper back in stock and it’s available for people to buy during office hours, with all profits from sales forming part of Manna Gum’s fundraising income.

“Unfortunately, our Term 2 courses and workshops have had to be cancelled, and our Community Lounge and opportunity shop is closed until further notice.

“However, we have adapted our operations to deliver as many services as possible while maintaining the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors,” she said.

“For the time being Manna Gum is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10 am and 3 pm, along with the Centrelink and Medicare agencies.

“Also, we’re making sure all of our furniture and equipment such as computers and telephones are kept scrupulously clean, and that physical distancing guidelines are followed,” Bec said.

“We’re still providing referrals to other services, too, and we invite the community to call the Manna Gum office for any information about support services on 5682 1101.”

For delivery options and support services

Manna Gum Community House publishes a regular newsletter and the current edition features a list of local food delivery options, and a selection of information and support services.

District supermarkets and general stores, including IGA Foster on 5682 2495, IGA Toora on 5686 2392, Welshpool Supermarket on 5688 1542, and Sandy Point General Store on 5684 1362, will happily accept orders and arrange deliveries.

The Prom Coast Food Collective represents a group of dedicated and ethical food producers from throughout South Gippsland and Bass Coast. Deliveries to the Foster area are available. For more information visit  www.promcoastfoodcollective.com.au

Vegetable boxes from Grow Lightly at Korumburra may be ordered online, with a fortnightly delivery service to Manna Gum Community House in Foster. For more information see www.growlightly.com.au

The Sandy Point Community Group is offering a range of services to Sandy Point and district people, including pick-ups and deliveries, simple repairs, dog walking, good conversation … Contact Frank Schrever on 0418 371 659 or Di Cornwell on 0457 392 277.

Fish Creek Mutual Aid was founded soon after Chris Wallace and Maddie Moore came to live in Fish Creek about a year ago and wanted to become involved in their new hometown.

The Mutual Aid group now has some 50 members who look out for each other and for the wider Fish Creek community, “so no-one falls through the cracks”.

For more information contact Chris and Maddie on 0473 245 978 or fishcreekmutualaid@gmail.com or look on Facebook.

Connect the Plots is a network of people around Foster and Fish Creek who love to grow their own vegetables and fruit, but also aim to exchange ideas, support each other and the community they live in.

Founder Elizabeth Collins is keen to establish a local seed bank and to help district households to start growing food for themselves and for others.

Find Connect the Plots’ Facebook page or contact Elizabeth on 0428 526 403 to learn more.

The Red Cross is currently delivering care packages for people on mandatory self-isolation, and anyone who may qualify is asked to ring the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

TAFE Gippsland has FREE help available for job seekers through its Skills and Jobs Centre, which provides people with independent advice on study and job options, and support for those who are looking for training, considering a career change, transitioning or looking for work.

See www.tafegippsland.edu.au/service/skills_and_jobs_centre for more information.

For people looking to connect online while in isolation, Manna Gum Community House in Foster can purchase a low-cost refurbished tablet, laptop or desktop computer through its membership with Connecting Up.

Contact the Manna Gum office for more details on 5682 1101.

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