Residents reminded of light at end of tunnel

With the City of Whittlesea now in stage-four restrictions, council and Whittlesea Community Connections remind the community there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

WCC manager of community support Belinda Leon said the community support network had several programs to support the community – remotely and over the phone.

Programs include; Friendly Connections, volunteers talk to isolated community members; Thomastown West Community Hub, providing online children’s activities; Mernda Community House, online arts and crafts and more; and Whittlesea Food Collective, delivering food to people in need.

Other support includes emergency relief and financial assistance, casework support for individuals, families and young people, and legal advice for families.

“Our contact centre operates Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm and any resident in the City of Whittlesea in need of food, financial assistance and practical support can call 9401 6666,” Ms Leon said.

“You can also ring this number if you would like to help out in some way or find out about volunteer opportunities in response to the crisis.”

Ms Leon said it was important WCC made people aware of their services during such a critical time.

“We need to continue to find innovative ways to get out there to community members that aren’t aware of our existence in a time where we are working from our homes and unable to go to community,” she said.

“Continuing to provide information and support in response to issues arising from the crisis such as mental health, family violence, financial assistance. And finding ways to do this when people are not safe at home for example.

“[It will be a challenge] to support our staff that are juggling childcare, home-schooling, caring commitments managing their own challenges of this pandemic whilst continuing to be support people and deliver services.”

Ms Leon thanked all of the WCC volunteers for their hard work.

“[It is] important for people not to struggle in isolation, to get in contact and find out the ways that they can stay connected, stay engaged and receive support,” she said.

“Even if people are not sure what to ask for, we encourage people to ring, people answering our phones will ask the right questions to identify what supports you need and the best place to get help.”

Whittlesea council chair administrator Lydia Wilson said COVID-19 meant people were living in challenging and confronting times and the impacts were significant and widespread.

“At this time there is no change to our organisation’s high priority areas that are providing essential services directly to our community,” Ms Wilson said.

“This means that you will see council workers out maintaining our parks and gardens, keeping our streets clean, and providing services like waste collection and immunisation.

“We have been vigilant in ensuring our workforce, and our community, remains safe and protected while important services continue. Our office based staff are predominantly working from home to minimise movements around the city.”

Ms Wilson thanked all frontline workers who were risking their health to support the community.

“We urge everyone living in the City of Whittlesea to stay connected with each other in whatever ways you can, check on your neighbours, call your friends, video conference with your extended family and please reach out for support if you need it,” she said.

“While this is an overwhelming and scary time for many of us, we will get through it by remaining positive, supporting each other and sticking together. By each and every one of us doing all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19, we can get back to a new kind of normal.”

Visit www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/coronavirus to access support services, or call council offices.

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