MISSION TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Impact Community Services Leigh Cooper.
MISSION TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Impact Community Services Leigh Cooper.

Mission to help community in a post-pandemic world

Leigh Cooper is on a mission to help anyone in the Bundaberg and Discovery Coast regions affected by the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath.

And it’s a challenge she’s well equipped for.

While COVID-19 infection rates in the Bundaberg region remain low, there is a large portion of the population struggling.

Impact Community Services has been provided a grant by the Queensland Government to establish a six-month community recovery program called COVID Connect.

The program is designed to help struggling residents cope with the after effects of coronavirus and ongoing changes.

“I have a good idea and mindset for what needs to be done in situations like this,” Ms Cooper, a former aged care worker, said.

“I want to help everyone, not just those who are medically-affected but those who’ve lost their job, and struggling with life in general.”

COVID Connect will include services such as welfare checks and monitoring for people at risk, mental health support, facilitation of access to support services, delivery of education/activity kits to families in isolation and assistance to people facing eviction or homelessness due to COVID-19.

The service extends to vulnerable people across the region, from Bundaberg to Childers, Gin Gin and the Discovery Coast.

Impact’s manager of support services Sandra Higgins said there were still many vulnerable members of the community who needed vital assistance.

“There are lots of people in the community who won’t bounce back immediately,” Ms Higgins said.

“There are those who can’t hit the ground running or whose circumstances are compounding the effects of the COVID-19 restrictions. And we’re here to help anyone who asks.”

People at potentially higher risk include those who are rurally isolated, single parents with children who have lost their support network, and the elderly stuck at home.

“The elderly are particularly disadvantaged during these restrictions,” Ms Higgins said.

“We can teach them how to do online groceries, how to do navigate telehealth, or how to do Skype calls with their family.

“Some don’t have smart phones so we can actually provide them with a device to contact the outside world, which for some must seem a long way away.”

Even before the start of COVID Connect, Impact was assisting those who lived where deliveries did not reach.

The team assisted a couple who were self-isolating out at Delan.

When the supermarkets couldn’t home-deliver their groceries, support worker Sharmaine Gernhoefer drove the 40 minutes to their home to make sure they got what they needed.

Now they have the ability to assist many more.

The COVID Connect model is deliberately flexible to be able to cater to the varying circumstances of each client but services will also include:

  • Pick-up and delivery of essential items, such as food and medicine
  • Establishing new routines and habits to adjust to the new world
  • Transport where applicable and necessary
  • Access to Impact’s training and employment services to assist with upskilling and connection to employment opportunities
  • Assistance to access accommodation
  • Stabilisation of personal circumstances and accessing other community supports

Where applicable, Impact support workers can also assist clients to develop a strengths-based plan, self-care plan and an emergency plan.

And because of Impact’s wraparound service model, participants will have access to their specialist staff, such as DV support workers, mental health support and other peer workers.

“Often the vulnerable among us, no matter what their circumstances, just need reassurance,” Ms Higgins said.

“They need to know that other people are in the same boat, and that this will all end at some point. And that’s what we’re here for.”

If you need support call 4153 4233.

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