AN INFLUX of new volunteers is helping steer the Mount Gambier Meals on Wheels branch through the COVID-19 pandemic.
With several elderly volunteers no longer able to conduct home deliveries for the organisation due to health risks, new volunteers have joined to fill the void and deliver meals to clients who rely on the service.
Elderly volunteers remain active in the organisation, ensuring the safety and well-being of clients through regular phone calls to maintain social connection.
Meals on Wheels regional branch support officer Lisa Fewins said the influx of volunteers was much-needed due to a growth in orders.
“They help with deliveries and packing meals in the kitchen and it is just fantastic to see such a large amount of people come along to help during these tough times,” Ms Fewins said.
“Due to shopping restrictions, some of our clients have increased their meal days because they do not want to go out shopping for food and other things.
“A lot of our clients have also found it difficult to find essential items and supermarkets have helped us out by teaming up and supplying things like toilet paper, which we are then able to deliver to them.”
Ms Fewins said it was pleasing to have several younger volunteers join the ranks.
“They have started to help and they are wanting to continue after this is all over which is fantastic,” she said.
“They are now able to experience what we do and see clients and engage with the broader community.”
The organisation has also increased its welfare checks on the more vulnerable clients, including the elderly and those with a disability.
“We cannot go into their houses anymore but we do go to the door and ensure they are okay and do conduct a bit of a welfare check on them to make sure they have everything they need,” Ms Fewins said.
“It is a hard time for all those who have lost their jobs and we do not know when this will all pick back up again but it is more about helping the whole community in one way or another, such as preparing food or delivering the frozen meals.
“The community in Mount Gambier has really come together and have come out of this wanting to help which is a fantastic eye-opening opportunity for many and we do it in a safe manner with all volunteers using hand sanitiser, limiting person contact, wearing gloves and adhering to the guidelines.”
Ms Fewins also commended Mount Gambier City Council for providing staff to help service the organisation.
“We have library and gallery staff who are all using their regular working hours to help us,” she said.
“We are just so grateful for all of the support we have received across the board during these difficult times.”