Sr Christine Henry: Keeping in touch with our people during COVID-19Print
2020 has seen Downs & West Community Support (DWCS) reaching out and offering support in very different ways.
When lockdown and social distancing began in March 2020, it was essential for us to keep in touch with individuals, farming families and small businesses in regional, rural and remote areas of Southern Queensland during the unfolding events of the coronavirus pandemic.
People have been frightened, isolated more than ever before, and needed support and reassurance. COVID-19 is just another serious event that hit our farming communities hard.
DWCS continued to keep-in-touch by phoning four to five people a day (that’s around 268 families to date) to check in on them and to respond to any emerging needs or emergencies; and writing Thinking of You cards for 110 rural individuals and families.
Some examples of farming and family needs that have been met are:
- Payment of overdue medical and electrical bills
- Posted items of winter clothing
- Distributed petrol vouchers
- Provided emergency stockfeed who had no feed. These farmers had destocked months ago and only kept prime breeders. They received rain in February but without follow-up rain the young pasture growth died. Selling of stock is not an option due to the coronavirus.
- Transferred money into farmers accounts in emergency situations.
On May 9, DWCS was on the road heading west, permitted to see one family a day.
Sitting on a fallen tree trunk at the farm gate on a cold windy day, a farming family and I enjoyed a chat, a coffee and hot scones made especially for our meeting.
Moments like these are to be remembered and cherished. Every family we saw was invited to choose whatever they needed from the van which included a large hamper for them all.
We are now visiting families more freely although physical distancing is maintained. Although it is hard not to give a warm hug, I have a real sense that DWCS is are loved and appreciated.
Liaising with rural organisations and local regional councils via phone or Zoom meetings is the new norm and has been valuable as we planned Wellness Days for women and men in three different locations.
Strict COVID safe policies were in place and DWCS followed these closely as we did our very best to keep everyone safe.
In late August, we organised three successful Wellness Days for country women and one men’s gathering. A total of 58 women and 15 men attended these days and everyone was so delighted to be invited to come together for the first time in months.
The participants had an opportunity to chat, to be pampered and cared for, to learn, to be gifted with many practical gifts and to enjoy a hearty meal.
Our thoughts and prayers are for everyone impacted by this virus.