Covid-19 has shown how a targeted, collaborative approach can inspire members and clients alike.
With the onset of Level 4 lockdown in March, our Conference used existing client lists, parish office referrals of elderly and isolated parishioners, the Vinnies social worker referrals and Conference member knowledge to identify 180 clients to check-in on under lockdown conditions. We then used 14 members to make phone calls and find out whether there were any specific lockdown needs such as food supply, clothing or child/baby needs, bedding, encouragement through the stress of it all, advocacy, or on-going check-up calls.
Not everything always went smoothly in making contact, with mistaken and disconnected numbers and missed calls accounting for about a third of the calls made! However, overall there was overwhelmingly positive feedback on this Vinnies’ outreach. Many practical needs were identified, such as the need for weekly food parcels for nine households which were delivered by the Vinnies vans from nearby Newtown. These services continued into Alert Levels 3 and 2, sometimes requiring our own Conference members to do deliveries. As parishioners heard of the initiative through the grapevine and from the parish newsletters, more food/household items and money were donated directly to help these clients. Families with children who needed school items and clothing were also identified and, as we progressed to Alert Level 1, it was possible for one of our members to take these families shopping to secure necessary supplies.
One story illustrates very well the value of collaboration. An elderly parishioner living alone and in financial hardship rang the parish office asking for help in level 1. After an assessment of needs, parishioner donations held in our local Conference account were used to purchase a new microwave; the Vinnies social worker provided a new bed and dining furniture; members provided new bedding; and a referral to the Parish Priest was made so the parishioner could receive communion.
We have long known that effective services require coordination to meet a range of needs. COVID-19 clearly demonstrated the value of parish office staff, priests, parishioners, our Conference members and Vinnies Welfare Centre staff working together. It was inspiring for all involved.
Tina Quidilla and Annette Bridgman,
Holy Trinity Parish SVdP, Eastern Suburbs, Wellington.
2020 National Recovery Appeal
If you would like to support struggling families and communities through the St Vincent de Paul Covid-19 National Recovery Appeal, you can donate online at: donate.svdp.org.nz