Red Cross volunteers and staff are providing support on the ground in response to the new spike of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, as the greater Melbourne area, along with Mitchell Shire re-entered lockdown.
Red Cross Victorian Director Sue Cunningham said a team of specially trained volunteers has been on the ground assisting with food distribution into the housing estates in North Melbourne and Flemington, who have been in hard lockdown for the past five days. As the situation evolves, Red Cross volunteers continue to provide much needed support where it’s needed.
“The needs are diverse,” Ms Cunningham said. “We are hearing cases of people requesting food, other essential supplies and a wide range of different supports.”
Red Cross is also operating the Community Activation and Social Initiative (CASI) which has seen trained Red Cross people in Victoria providing phone-based support through the Victorian COVID Hotline. It’s planned to run for the next six months in partnership with the Victorian Government and a range of Community Connector partners across the State, offering practical and emotional support to Victorians who call the COVID Hotline.
“CASI helps people receive practical assistance and emotional support, including enabling social connections and networks in their community. Red Cross volunteers receive and triage the calls, provide psychological first aid and link people to community connectors in their local area who can help them access local services and support.
“More than 200 calls a day are being received, including calls from people in the locked down areas. We are understandably hearing stories of people feeling isolated and lonely. Some have concerns about job loss and finances. Many people are distressed and are needing someone to turn to. We are helping by providing a friendly listening ear and caring voice, linking them into local supports, and giving them vital information,” Ms Cunningham said.
Victorians can ring the COVID Hotline on 1800 675 398 if they’re feeling isolated, need help to access practical support including assistance with food shopping, pet care, connecting to local services and supports.
The program is powered by Red Cross volunteers working remotely and providing the friendly, caring and practical support we’re known for. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, Red Cross has been providing telephone support to more than 24,800 people in mandatory quarantine and self-isolation across the country. Our volunteers are well trained in providing psychological first aid in emergencies, as well as helping people access services and support in the community.