During Community Safety Month, we are saying ‘thank you’ to some wonderful organisations who have supported the community during the pandemic.

Local organisations have been stepping up to provide support to those who need it most during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic, by shifting from face-to-face programs to providing meals, care and emergency relief packages and other support.

Boroondara Community Outreach

Before the pandemic, local not-for-profit Uniting Church mission, Boroondara Community Outreach was providing around 500 meals each month at its community activities.

They are now distributing more than 600 meals every week, as well as emergency relief packages. Many of these meals are cooked by volunteers - including a young chef named Ben who has volunteered his time five days a week.

“While the nutritious meals are important for keeping people healthy, what has mattered the most has been the regular contact,” Boroondara Community Outreach co-ordinator, Rev. Natalie Dixon-Monu said.

“Having a chance to chat about how they are travelling has been really important to people’s wellbeing. As one participant said, ‘it just lets me know that someone cares about me’.”

The organisation is supporting many new faces, including asylum seekers, international students, single parents and people who have lost work. It’s also a place for rough sleepers to have a hot meal, receive clothing and toiletries, recharge their phones and stay warm.

Their work is supported by local churches, volunteers, businesses and donors, as well as through a Boroondara Community Strengthening Grant.

Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre

Shima Ibuki, Manager of Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre, said maintaining connection has been crucial.

“It was important to us to find ways to support people and to help them feel valued and connected during an isolating time,” Shima said.

The centre has been organising care packages, making and distributing meals and face masks, running errands and making ‘check in’ phone calls on vulnerable residents, all thanks to the generosity of volunteers and local businesses.

“We're so lucky to have amazing people in this community who readily put up their hands to help others,” she said.