Covid-19 affects volunteer numbers but human spirit strengthens

25 May 2020
Karen Moore, nutritionist and volunteer

We’ve missed seeing the faces of our bright, enthusiastic volunteers who take the time to teach our clients new skills in our Women’s House, or hold a barbeque, or happily provide customer service in our op shops, as well as help out in a myriad of other ways.

Our volunteers have shown tremendous spirit and continue to put up their hand to offer to help us as they think of others who’ve been hardest hit.

Our Wellness Place volunteers have been working creatively, albeit remotely, by doing telehealth sessions to connect with people experiencing homelessness.

Healthy recipes and nutrition tips via phone and video

Formerly known as the Hands on Health Clinic, the Wellness Place is supported by experienced volunteers such as nutritionist Karen who has been continuing to offer consultations, nutrition assessments, and individual recommendations to our clients over the phone about eating more healthy, while matching their food preferences, life circumstances and budget.

To compensate for not being able to include cooking when she sees our clients, Karen is in the process of making videos to share with them, particularly for those living in difficult circumstances with limited equipment.

“It is about having fun and experimenting but with an underlying focus of making a healthy well-balanced meal,” Karen says.

“For instance, some types of rice or pasta can be cooked in a thermos and you only need access to hot water, which can be a base for a delicious salad, and lots of meals can be made in a mug or a microwave.”

Virtual physiotherapy

Similarly, our volunteer physiotherapist Stephanie has been talking with our clients about managing their pain (such as back and lower limb) via phone and videolink, and mailing exercise sheets to people. She has also been passing on online and YouTube resources.

“From my sessions, I notice the clients develop more confidence to exercise and engage in activities and they really do appreciate the service being offered,” Stephanie says.

Another Wellness Place volunteer, Leah, has been teaching Feldenkrais, which is a type of exercise therapy that helps people to improve their body movement and mental health, via phone to our clients.

Volunteers put their crafting skills to good use

Meanwhile Evie, a staff member from our East St Kilda op shop, and volunteer Gail, recently helped set up our COVID-19 Isolation and Recovery Facility, where they unpacked fridges, moved furniture, and made beds to get them all ready for our clients. Evie has also kindly joined together a stack of smaller crochet quilts and made larger ones to use on the beds.

Another op shop volunteer, Catherine, has been busily sewing beautiful tutus, quilts and aprons to donate to our op shops when they reopen.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by our volunteers’ generosity over this period and once this pandemic passes, we can’t wait to invite them back,” Mizzi, our Volunteer Coordinator says.

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