Charities such as JRS Australia are providing food packs to about 600 people per week in the Sydney region during the COVID-19 economic crisis. Asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and international students are without basic support nets such as JobKeeper, JobSeeker, and Medicare and are relying on charities which are now stretched to capacity. There is urgent need for more volunteers to alleviate the strain.
This need comes as Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP thanked more than 30 parishes in Greater Sydney that have taken up the Parish Volunteer Program established by CatholicCare.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has really demonstrated how important volunteering is in the life of our communities, and especially how the Church can be present and helpful to the needs of others,” he said in a video address.
the Church can be present and helpful to the needs of others
Volunteers from across the community with the support of CatholicCare – the Archdiocese of Sydney’s social services agency – are working to support those most vulnerable during COVID-19 including asylum seekers, the elderly, disabled, homeless and international students who are stranded.
One of those who has joined the Parish Volunteer Program is Silvana Roccisano from Holy Spirit Parish and Primary School in Carnes Hill.
“Just because we have to be socially distant doesn’t mean we have to be spiritually closed at this time,” she said.
The Community Engagement team at CatholicCare connected her to the Jesuit Refugee Service, another Catholic agency supporting refugee families in the community. Silvana, together with members of CatholicCare’s Mission and Outreach team witnessed the impact COVID-19 is having on vulnerable groups and individuals in our community like refugees.
Many don’t receive any government support and completely rely on charities for their basic living needs. For those who’ve lost their jobs and are not eligible for JobSeeker or JobKeeper payments it can be particularly challenging.
“In my role as Family Educator with Sydney Catholic Schools, I have the opportunity to open the door up to those people in need in the community,” Silvana said.
“During this difficult and unprecedented time there will continue to be people who will suffer more than others. Reaching out is something that I wanted to do not only within my parish community, but to stretch it out to my school community.”
“I have been humbled by the experience so far and I will continue to do what I can to empower my parish and school community to help the best way they can.”
If you would like to volunteer or know someone who is struggling in this time of crisis, call CCareline a free and confidential helpline for counselling, relationships, parenting, ageing, disabilities, addictions and mental health concerns, on 13 18 19.