Informative ‘get together’ at the Italian Language Centre. 42 Newbery Street, Newmarket.
Ages 16+ are welcome.
Christmas is a polarising time of year. For most, it is a time to gather with family and reflect on the year that was. For others, it exacerbates loneliness and isolation. In a year when isolation has been the over-riding theme, Co.As.It. Community Services Ltd has tried to show some of its most vulnerable clients that they’re not alone and that people care about them. Forty very deserving clients received luxury hampers with contents individually sourced and packed by Co.As.It. staff. Judging by the tears and deep gratitude expressed by most recipients, this small gesture made a big difference by brightening many Christmases.
One client has been recently widowed and forced to move to less expensive rental accommodation. As a pensioner, whose only child lives overseas and without family in Queensland, she was facing a bleak Christmas. While the hamper won’t change her isolation on Christmas day, it will at least remind her that there are people near who care about her and it will enable her to indulge a little over the festive season.
Another client has a daughter who lives in Austria and a son who lives in Hervey Bay, but doesn’t visit. She has daily telephone contact with a brother, but no face-to-face contact. She was overwhelmed and delighted to receive the hamper, stating that she will be spending Christmas day alone.
For most of us, the lifting of border restrictions and the number of people allowed to gather in homes, means that a “Covid-normal” Christmas won’t be very different to a usual Christmas. Unfortunately, for many elderly and disadvantaged Australians, being alone at Christmas is usual. Whilst a Christmas hamper may not fill the void created by the absence of family and friends, it does remind people that there are others who care about them and wish them well, now and throughout the year.
The humility of some clients can be overwhelming. One of the recipients has recently been discharged from hospital and is receiving shopping assistance. He rents with two other men and has not seen any family members for more than 40 years, but despite this, suggested that perhaps Co.As.It. should give the hamper to a “more deserving” client. He was assured that he was very deserving and he ultimately accepted the hamper, but wouldn’t smile in the photo due to his lack of teeth.
Another deserving recipient is recovering from two surgeries intended to improve her mobility, whilst visiting her 20-something son who’s recently been diagnosed with two aggressive cancers, in hospital every day. A Co.As.It. client since 2015, this lovely woman is always ready with a cold drink and a biscuit for her care workers, conscious that they often spend all day out and about.
Every hamper recipient has been overcome with gratitude and each one was truly deserving. Co.As.It. wishes each and every client and their families a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2021.
Anyone who’s visited a supermarket lately will have noticed that it’s becoming more difficult to practice physical distancing. Clearly some people haven’t got the 1.5m message and others seem to be on a mission to get up close and personal. Steering a trolley down the aisles is like driving a dodgem car with obstacles coming out of nowhere.
Fortunately, Co.As.It. client Edith Levai doesn’t have to worry about playing distancing dodgems, as she and her husband are having their groceries delivered to their door by Co.As.It. staff, under the Queensland Community Support Scheme (QCSS).
“Edith and her husband found shopping very stressful during ‘lockdown’ with an increase of panicked drivers in car parks” said Bridget Nucifora, QCSS coordinator. Co.As.It. has responded to the restrictions by being creative with the services it provides, in order to cater to individual client needs like Edith’s.
Under QCSS, support is available to people aged under 65, who have a long term disability, chronic illness, mental illness or other condition that impacts on their day to day functional capacity and ability to participate in the community. For more information about these services, call the coordinator, Bridget Nucifora on 07 3624 6100.
With weekly telephone calls replacing face-to-face visits to Italians in residential aged care facilities, Co.As.It. Community Volunteer Service Co-ordinators, Sarina Campbell and Luisa Ruggiero-Foote decided to round up a few local children to remind the 20+ Italian residents at Regis Aged Care Lutwyche, that they hadn’t been forgotten. Luisa and Sarina enlisted the help of 6-year-old Amira to deliver a load of brightly coloured posters to Debra Dorgan, Lifestyle Co-ordinator at Regis, to brighten the residents’ rooms.
The restrictions CVS is facing of social distancing and isolation especially for the elderly are in direct contrast to the intentions of the CVS program, which are building connections and companionship (a special friend) through regular physical visits by matching a volunteer with a client/resident.
Home care package client Joe who lives alone enjoys his visits from his CVS visitor Perry. Joe’s face usually lights up when Perry arrives at his home. Over a cup of coffee that Joe proudly prepares by setting the table with a table cloth and good china, he reminisces and recounts the stories of this family immigrating from Italy in the early 1930s and becoming a pioneer cane cutting family in north Queensland for many years. Joe delights in sharing his many stories and achievements from throughout his life. He also likes to share poems that have inspired him during his life.
Since COVID-19, speaking over the phone with the CVS coordinator Joe said he is alone with his cup of coffee and Rosary beads and that’s how he spends his days. Perry has now transitioned to recreating and continuing his visits through a regular phone call with Joe to assist him to stay connected and offer any social support he may need.
Normally new volunteers and clients are matched through a physical meet and greet visit with the CVS coordinator but due to protecting the health of our elderly community at this time, this process is not possible. With the coordinator’s encouragement and assistance, new volunteers have been initiating the first contact with their new client/resident by phone on their own. This is a new territory for the program’s coordinators and volunteers. In essence, they are the trailblazers that will go down in history for adapting, trialing and implement a new way of achieving the goal of how can we keep helping the vulnerable in our communities keep connected. Our goal is to support well being.
Below is an extract from an email received from the first new volunteer who introduced herself to her new client via telephone after receiving coaching from the client’s carer regarding her background and interests so that the volunteer had a brief knowledge of the client’s past life experiences.
“The phone call with Cora went really well! It was very easy to talk to each other and she’s a very funny, talkative lady. Without knowing it, you matched us perfectly as we have a lot in common and share very similar interests. She was very grateful and we both decided we will continue to talk on the phone until we can finally meet :)”