Rapid Response for Refugees August Update

“Aunty” time pre Covid  -19

Thanks to our donors, the Rapid Response (Circle 110) team has continued to “Make things happen” over these challenging winter months.

Our Circle received substantial financial donations for which we are truly grateful. They created capacity to supplement pre-loved blankets, quilts, throws and warm clothes donated, with new items tailored for each person. Singles and families could be warm, properly fed and experience the welcome and care that is around them but often not transparent. We were also given two cost efficient heaters and bought a further three for people in especially challenging situations. Even more satisfying was, after advice from a “wood man,” buying a new axe, log splitter and chopper for a family given a load of wood to use in their combustion heater but no way to cut it. Instruction in safe use of these implements and how to set a fire was also provided.

Of necessity, home visits increased for families and individuals in desperate need but reliant on public transport. We could not imagine transporting bedding and bags of clothes by bus, let alone a “high rise” twin pusher with a toddler stand and a baby pouch for mum to carry the newborn. No car in that house and 6 children aged 5 and under. Memorable connections were made during these visits and “You’re welcome,” “Happy to share,” “You deserve this,” were frequently repeated phrases.

Short term help with back rent and Utility Bills from “Welcoming Australia for some clients, together with payments from the “Rent Relief During Covid-19” Circle 3 eased the pressure on our Circle. This enabled more flexibility and confidence about other responses. We paid for a double bed and mattress to be relocated, purchase and delivery of a small fridge, a cheap, new smart TV and we ventured into the world of computers! Normally this is the work of St Ignatius Refugee Support Group, but their funds are committed until mid-2021.

Second-hand computers proved impossible to source. Consequently, as of Friday 21 August, 2 mature age students and a family of 6 have new Notebooks, set up so they can more easily continue their studies in these challenging times. Acknowledgement and thanks to Alex Button from “I.T. No Go” who guided us through the “what’s best” maze, donating his time.

Our financial and personal commitment to those we have know for a long time has also continued. The young woman from Manus Island who was housed in the outer southern suburbs of Adelaide has relocated to a more modern home 60 km away. Many people previously on Manus live nearby. Her daughter is now two years old and the child’s father remains in the Adelaide immigration Transit Accommodation Centre at Kilburn. He has been in transition since just before her 1st birthday – she is now two and a half. There has been no contact since the Covid-19 lockdown.

For those who know Circle history, Circle 3 was reactivated with a different focus following the interview Justice for Refugees SA arranged with Pete Malinauskas on ABC 891 some weeks ago. A woman with a Bridging Visa with work rights – but no longer any work for her or her husband – spoke movingly on the physical, emotional, educational and social effects Covid-19 induced poverty has had on her family. Many listeners asked where to donate and other Organisations which were interviewed nominated COFA to receive funds. Circles’ flexibility and the fact that 99% of donations go directly to refugees and asylum seekers, together with our endeavours to support the work of professional Organisations, filling gaps and complementing for over 18 years now, probably influenced this decision.

Again, sincere thanks to donors and every amount given, large or small, does matter. Once again, thanks and acknowledgement to the Blackwood/Hills and Willunga Circles of Friends. They have worked magic in this challenging year to continue supporting people in great need through this Rapid Response Circle.

Tricia, Denise & Leeanne

Circle 110 Team and Co-Convenors