Like you, we anxiously followed the progress of change brought about the onslaught of COVID-19 through the world. The conversation among the folk we have been serving was one of both fear and anger. Fear over the unknown and the apparent fear-mongering that was coming through the media and social-media; and anger over not being considered when being told that social-isolation, or stay-at-home was the best solution.
With the advent of Stage 3 Lockdown about to be enacted we reviewed our activities and receiving some professional advice, we were able to continue Street Angels, albeit with some major changes for the safety of both the folks we serve as well as our volunteers. Some of these changes include;
- We did not put out chairs, to encourage people to not congregate or hang around.
- We stopped serving hot coffee and tea in an effort to not encourage people to hang around.
- Meals all became take-away and were handed out with utensils and napkins to guests to either eat in the park or take home to eat. Most chose to eat standing around.
- Hand sanitizer and masks were provided for our volunteers to use.
- Smaller hand-sanitizer bottles were handed out to guests and they were encouraged to use them.
- Social-distancing was encouraged and guests were asked to wait at a distance to receive their take-away food and a bottle of water.
These practices have been necessary but have shown how much of what we do is about community and human contact.
At the present, we can’t sit with someone to share lunch and comfort them or hear more about their story; we can’t offer comfort beyond a warm meal and some kind words. While that is frustrating for all of the volunteers, we are very grateful that we are able to continue offering nutritious food and at least a steady ongoing presence that cares about them.
Like many, we look forward to the end of the restrictions, but recognise that they are vital for us to beat COVID-19. Hopefully, it is encouraging us to recognise the value of home and how vital it is for a safe place to live, especially at a such a time of trauma.