HELPING HAND: Laidley Community Centre manager Alana Wahl said the centre had been focusing its efforts during the COVID-19 lockdown on helping the most vulnerable in the community. Picture: Dominic Elsome
HELPING HAND: Laidley Community Centre manager Alana Wahl said the centre had been focusing its efforts during the COVID-19 lockdown on helping the most vulnerable in the community. Picture: Dominic Elsome

HELP AVAILABLE: Community centre’s vital role during virus

THE Laidley Community Centre has been focusing its efforts during the coronavirus lockdown on ensuring the most vulnerable in the region get the help they need, and that people are able to care for their mental health.

Laidley Community Centre manager Alana Wahl said this week the biggest issue currently was mental health – whether it was because a person was confined in a home they’re not comfortable with due to domestic violence, because they’re worried about money for the mortgage or food, or because they have health concerns and were worried about contracting the virus.

“Mental health is an issue across the board for a number of reasons and one of the ways to combat that is just checking on your neighbours or, if you’re aware of someone who is at risk, letting them know about us and the services we can link them to.”

Ms Wahl said there was “certainly” an increased risk of violence in the home because of the extra stress and everyone being in the home.

“There’s more substance abuse including alcohol during times of high stress and we’d encourage anyone who’s feeling more fragile than usual to reach out and we can connect them with some supports.”

She said she had also seen an increase in people who were struggling because they are lonely and missing community connection.

“And we’re quite worried about some of them.

“We’ve been calling to check on them regularly and we’re looking forward to reconnecting people. Online is no replacement for the real thing and we know there’s a lot of the community who don’t have the internet or devices that could allow them to social connect.”

Laidley Community Centre manager Alana Wahl. Picture: Dominic Elsome
Laidley Community Centre manager Alana Wahl. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Ms Wahl said she was concerned some people were not aware of the services available at the community centre.

“We’re trying to make sure the information gets out there to people who need it but are trying to ride it out alone.

“There’s a couple of groups we’re most worried about. One is the seniors who might not be connected with technology and are at risk of social isolation.

“They’re a resilient cohort and might be least likely to ask for help.”

She said another group who were vulnerable were those who were sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness and might not know about available services because they weren’t using social media.

While non-essential services had been postponed, she said, essential services such as food and emergency relief were available and staff could connect people with specialist services online or by phone.

Services people could be connected with included housing, mental health, domestic violence support, and financial counsellors.

“I think that over the next few months we will also be supporting those people who didn’t get any of the government stimulus money.”

Ms Wahl said the Gatton community was “really good at banding together when times are tough”.

“We’re quite resilient and we’ve been through quite a few disasters over the years.

“Everybody here is looking forward to when social restrictions can be lifted and we can gather together and connect face-to-face.”

She said the community centre had been organising food hampers as part of a food relief program.

“We’ve gone out and sourced products ourselves using donation money and created hampers for people who needed extra support, who had slipped through the cracks and hadn’t received money or who were self-isolating.”

Anyone is able to donate food to the centre to be used for food relief in the community.

COMMUNITY CENTRE SERVICES:

COMMUNITY CONNECT: For those experiencing challenges including housing, financial stress, mental health, drought, domestic violence, and more. Staff can offer support and link you to specialist services. Call 0492811548.

EMERGENCY RELIEF: For those with an inability to pay bills due to an unexpected or compassionate circumstance. Staff may be able to assist with food, fuel, medicine, water, blankets or other support. Call 54651889.

FOOD RELIEF: Limited rescued and other donated food available most days. Recommend attendance between 10-10:30am on weekdays.

ISOLATION SUPPORT: Some assistance may be available to help local community members who are vulnerable and isolating including, support to access shopping, medication, or connect with other essential services. Call 5465 1889.

CENTRELINK ACCESS: For those needing to access Centrelink self-help facilities or who are advised to access a Rural Agency.

COMMUNITY GROUNDS: Our social enterprise cafe remains open in Patrick Street to provide takeaway for essential workers and as a collection point for any donated non-perishable food. Hours are 7:30am-1:30pm, Monday to Friday.

PARENT SUPPORT: Local parents with children under 5 can receive craft materials and activity packs while our groups are postponed. Call 5465 1889 or email Janella@laidleycc.org.au


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