In the initial crisis weeks of COVID-19 at CityCare we were busy responding to the urgent needs of our community. In Australia, 1/5 of all food related charities closed in the first couple of weeks of the crisis due to an inability to get stock and donations drying up. There was also a significant lockdown and a subsequent increase in unemployment across multiple industries. This led to many people being forced to live on savings until the government support kicked in. Government support was fast and widespread but there was still a time lag gap from last paychecks to when the support hit people’s bank accounts as well as a number of groups who missed out on these support payments. And in the vulnerable communities we work in, savings is just not an option so there was instant tangible need.
Through the generosity of our church we were able to access stock through our partners and existing suppliers and therefore ramp up and increase our food relief in many of our locations. This has meant our team have been focussed on safe food relief and delivery for the last 5 weeks and they have loved being able to play a part in keeping our communities resilient at a crisis time even when all of our other programs haven’t been able to run.
But what I have realised about CityCare is that COVID-19 doesn’t change our mission, it amplifies it.
Although this pandemic has pivoted our crisis response to food relief, in the recovery phase everything that we know about the community and how to work with vulnerable groups is still true and needed more than ever. Crisis exacerbates vulnerability. If you were vulnerable before the pandemic you will be increasingly vulnerable within it and will also take longer to recover from it.
Our work with vulnerable youth in schools will be increasingly needed as traumatised kids come back into the school system having lost weeks of work but also the structure and safety of the school environment. Domestic violence has skyrocketed across the world with the pressures of lockdown increasing the risk for women and children in unsafe homes. Our Homes of Peace, transitional homes for women escaping violence, will be even more in demand. Foster care agencies that we work with on a regular basis have been using our food hampers to access homes of children at risk of significant harm just to do a welfare check on them. Those children and families will need additional support coming out of this crisis and our work with families and vulnerable children help provide this.
So CityCare isn’t changing, its mission is even more important today because a pandemic doesn’t change our mission, it amplifies it.