While the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed our life as we know it, here at Wesley Mission Queensland we have continued to put our customers at the heart of everything we do.
When COVID-19 put a stop to Bray Park State High School students conducting their weekly visits to Anam Cara Aged Care community in Brisbane’s north, the students and residents quickly came up with a solution. In March the students started weekly Zoom calls with the residents, live streaming their assemblies and musical performances and showing residents their artwork projects—prompting tears from students and the principal.
Principal Peter Turner said the students used to visit Anam Cara weekly for cooking, knitting, singing, dancing and board games with the elderly residents. “I challenged the students at our virtual assembly to show compassion, which is a school value, in the face of disappointing behaviour we were seeing in shopping centres, with fights over toilet paper. The students said we should live-stream instead of our visits, so we got in touch with Anam Cara and the residents were excited. It’s about keeping connected, we need to look after the vulnerable in our society, and battle loneliness and isolation during this time,” Mr Turner said.
The Albert Street Uniting Church moved worship services online in March and between March and July an average of 330 online devices were participating in weekly services. While in-person services resumed in mid-July, the new online community continues to average 100 devices each week, with people from North Queensland, Victoria and Western Australian joining in for worship.
From roving entertainers to balcony exercises and pavement line dancing, residents at Wheller on the Park retirement community, kept busy during COVID-19 restrictions.
Carrie Woods, Acting Manager of Wheller on the Park said, “We normally have 40 social clubs operating across the community, so the first few weeks of restrictions were very challenging for residents.
"We worked hard to implement an engaging social calendar, which included balcony exercises, three times a week thanks to the staff at the Wheller Gardens Therapy Centre, our resident poet reciting, and we had two violinists from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra walk around the village and perform for us, which was very special.”
Staff at Clear Breeze Apartments set-up a large outdoor cinema screen in the garden for residents to be able to enjoy movies from their balconies. These clients, living with mental health concerns, were particularly vulnerable to social isolation, not being able to visit elderly parents or attend their support groups.
When the restrictions forced the closure of the Art from the Margins (AFTM) studio in Fortitude Valley the team moved their workshops online.
They offered Zoom sessions with facilitators and also created an ‘AFTM Workshops at home’ Facebook page for sharing isolation-friendly art activities, inspiration, artworks and updates between the 51 members who joined.
To launch the Annual Emerging Artist’s showcase exhibition in June, a free online Zoom panel discussion was held between artists, their mentor Fiona Forest and moderator Dr Bill Platz, Director of research at Queensland College of Art.
The Brisbane Relief Hub in Fortitude Valley was one of the only emergency relief services to remain open during COVID-19 restrictions, offering vital food, medical scripts and case support work to people in need, particularly international students who didn’t quality for COVID-19 government relief payments.
The service adapted their weekly Monday and Wednesday night meals and Sunday lunch to COVID-19 safe takeaway services, preparing and handing out up to 100 meals a week. The weekly Tuesday BBQ also moved to a COVID-19 safe service and saw 70-90 people each week attend.
Our respite centre staff implemented an ‘old-school’ group phone call program dubbed- ‘Phone Waves’ in May to keep in-home clients connected when our respite centres closed. Bronwyn Dawe, coordinator of Wesley Mission Queensland’s Respite Services and Social Inclusion In-Home Care said, “Many of our clients live alone and don’t have access to the technology to do video calls, so we decided to try a conference call over the phone. We have five to six clients on the call, and they share stories about their travels, join in a quiz and share jokes,” she said. Clients love the initiative, which will continue even when centres reopen.