A community conscious movement

March 19, 2020 BY

Founder of Cherished Pets Dr Alicia Kennedy, pictured with Lissi Dawn and her dog Daisy, has joined hundreds of community conscious people offering their services, to vulnerable groups affected by coronavirus.

WITH the world in the grips of a coronavirus pandemic and Victoria in a state of emergency, it’s not just the virus making the elderly and vulnerable social groups feel helpless – it’s the panic buying and depleted supermarket shelves.

For Ocean Grove’s Lisa Jensen a trip to the shops, and the distressed individuals she saw unable to purchase essential supplies, spurred her to launch a local Bellarine Facebook group to offer a helping hand.

“It was so depressing seeing all the empty shelves at the supermarket. I know when my mum was terminally sick, the disease she had really impacted her mobility and independence,” Ms Jensen said.

“When I couldn’t get there, she relied on a council worker to take her shopping once a week, for forty minutes. She had that tiny window to get what she needed, she didn’t have the means to drive around to four different shops or pop down to see if something was there.

“There’s a lot of families and individuals living week to week in our community that don’t have the ability to do that either, they’re the ones suffering and bearing the brunt of people stocking up.”
Ms Jensen said she launched the “COVID19 OGBH neighborhood help group” on Monday and within a couple of days, the group was just shy of 500 members.

“I thought maybe 40 people would join and if someone needed something, like a toilet roll, others that had spare could offer a hand, but the group has just exploded.

“I’ve contacted some local charities to let them know there’s hundreds of us happy to offer up our services, whether that’s picking up supplies or dropping off food.

“Cherished Pets are also doing their bit, their clientele is in the demographic that need a hand, so their vet nurses are dropping off hand sanitizer to clients and offering extra supports.”

Dr Alicia Kennedy, who runs Cherished Pets (an organisation that provides several services, including home pet care for the elderly), said the coronavirus was another opportunity to uphold their duty of care.

“Vulnerable people are our clients, we’re very mindful of our duty of care in continuing to support them with their pets. We’re following all the recommended protocols and our community vet nurses are using home visits to see if they need any assistance with extra supplies.

“We’ve been taking toilet paper around during our visits. A lot of our clients that are already isolated will become more isolated, sometimes the only visit they receive is from one of our volunteers.

“We just really want to make sure during this time people, particularly our Cherished Pets clients, are aware they can access our home care services to keep them and their pet safe.”
Ms Jensen said several local organisations including Feed Me Bellarine were also adapting their services to continue providing for those most vulnerable.

“The Facebook group is connecting people. We’re not collecting donations but putting people directly in touch with others.

“We’ve got an army of people now ready to do what they can, it’s blown my mind how fast the group has grown. It’s heartwarming and overwhelming to see all the people prepared and willing to help.”

Head to the Department of Health and Human Services website regularly to keep up to date with developments at dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

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