Emergency relief hours extended

September 2, 2021 BY

Response: Uniting ER at Kangaroo Flat now has longer operating hours. PHOTO: JONATHON MAGRATH

THE Uniting Church’s support and assistance service has been extended at its Kangaroo Flat site on 10 Camp Street.

After Uniting Emergency Relief was discontinued at the Forest Street location, Uniting Vic. Tas group manager of community development Anna Matina said the goal is to make the remaining centre more accessible and flexible.

“We wanted to be able to respond to the needs of the community, so we’ve actually consolidated our services into the one location at Kangaroo Flat and we wanted to increase our hours as a response to that,” she said.

Previously, Uniting ER operated on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9am to 1pm but it now operates Tuesdays and Friday 9am to 3pm, as well as Thursdays 9am to 1pm.

“We had existing volunteers and staff based at Kangaroo Flat so for our staff it’s meant their hours have been extended and we’ve been able to utilise our existing volunteers and bring on additional volunteers to provide that support,” Ms Matina said.

Uniting ER now has 12 volunteers, offering food relief, help with bills and other expenses as well as social contact through a “cuppa and chat”.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Ms Matina said the way ER is delivered has “changed drastically.”

“[It’s] needed to change to be completely contactless, either people popping in to obtain food from us or actually delivering food to people at their homes if they can’t get to Kangaroo Flat,” she said.

“We’ve had to change the way we deliver the service but still trying to support just as many people, if not more, through that process.”

Ms Matina said they help about 20 people a day, and those in need can reach out to Uniting ER by contacting co-ordinator Max Blume on 5443 5458.

“Ideally people would contact us first, we’d give them an idea of what we have on hand,” Ms Martina said.

“It’s always really important to us that people have a choice around what they can obtain and we’ll pack something for them and allow them to come pick it up safely, or we currently are delivering to people’s homes as well if that’s more convenient.”

Uniting ER can also help by identifying if people need additional support and referring them to other services.

Ms Matina said Uniting is hoping to further expand the Kangaroo Flat centre later this year.

“We’ve been in the Greater Bendigo area for almost 30 years, we have a long and proud history in Bendigo and are committed to the region and supporting the community,” she said.

“We are hoping that by essentially doubling our hours at Kangaroo Flat we’ll be able to support more people and have resources go directly into the hands of those that need it the most.”

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