JORDAN River Service manager Helen Manser has praised the attitude and kindness being demonstrated in Brighton Municipality during the COVID-19 crisis and community isolation.
Helen said JRS had been overwhelmed with the generosity of volunteers’ time and work within the community and felt humbled that so many community members were doing their bit to help their fellow neighbours and friends.
“It is really wonderful to see and frankly if there is anything positive to come out of this, then it is the kindness and genuine care that people are showing each other,” Helen said.
“We are particularly noticing it with people we are talking to and seeing in the services that we are providing.
Waterbridge Pantry which Jordan River Service manages is being run off its feet and again, Helen is in admiration of the staff and volunteers who are helping to keep the Pantry’s vital services in providing nutritious pre-prepared food and produce available for the community.
“We have volunteers, working alongside staff, coming in here daily and cooking four days a week and on a roster to ensure we maintain the health and safety protocols during this pandemic. For example, some of our volunteers are people who no longer have jobs in the hospitality industry but have come in here to cook meals for our community. I have been looking at the figures and for two weeks in March alone, we had an extra 500 meals cooked and 600 meals sold.
“We also are cooking for a number of clients such as Caroline House in North Hobart, Common Ground and Corumbene Nursing Home. The meals and vegetable boxes are also being sold through a couple of neighbourhood houses,” Helen said.
JRS has been promised $100,000 from the Tasmanian Government through the Coronavirus Economic Support Package to help it in the work it is doing in the Waterbridge Pantry.
“We will be using that money to buy more coolers and freezer facilities because we are producing so much food we need to ensure we have storage space available.
Helen said JRS was also receiving additional funding for the Municipality’s community centres to provide additional capacity to support people within our communities who are isolated and impacted by COVID–19.
“Our Food for Communities project is still continuing with Geeveston Community Centre through Scrubby Hill Farm. Scrubby Hill Farm is significantly increasing the production of seasonal, local food. This will be harvested. and supplied each week to Waterbridge Food Co-op which is then selling the fresh fruit and vegetables or turning the produce into meals to be sold through the Waterbridge Community Pantry.
“We are also fortunate we have many other terrific suppliers who are providing us with fresh vegetables, meat and other produce.”
Workskills also provided a van to JRS to help with deliveries, and RACT is helping with vegetable boxes and deliveries.
Helen said one of the biggest issues for the municipality was providing computer technology for the community’s children while they are at home and schools remain closed.
“Many homes do not have computers or the internet and our neighbourhood houses are concerned about the number of children that are in this category and also parents who feel they don’t have the skills to be able to teach their children. So we are now providing three, one-hour blocks every Monday for school children to help in their online learning. This is an important initiative and one which we are ensuring is a priority to help families.”
Helen said that while it was certainly a busy time, JRS was grateful for the government grants that were helping the service provide for the community.
“We are also grateful for the kindness that is being shown by everyone. Sometimes it takes times of adversity to really bring out the best in people, and that is what we are seeing now throughout this current challenging time,” Helen said.