VINNIES Queensland chief executive officer Kevin Mercy sent out a simple message to anyone affected by COVID-19 joblessness, underemployment or poverty – help is still available.
Mr Mercer said to follow health directives meant Vinnies was forced to close its 153 Queensland shops last week for a four-week period from March 30.
“The closure was necessary, but done with great sadness,” Mr Mercer said.
“Vinnies shops provide a valuable community service and St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland will review the situation at the end of the four-week period.
“We thank all our staff, our volunteers, our volunteer members and the people we support who make Vinnies shops such a valuable and beloved part of our community and we look forward to seeing them reopen as soon as possible.”
Despite the closures and changes, he assured help was still available.
“Queenslanders are doing it tough managing with self-isolation, adjusting to work losses or stand downs,” he said.
“We are hearing their stories through calls to our Helpline.
“Those newly unemployed or those on reduced hours are calling us, as well as people who were already under the poverty line, homeless, or facing daily economic stress.
“It’s hard for people to call for help for the first time. It’s a huge new shock. However, we never judge, and we’re always here.”
Mr Mercer said Vinnies needed to meet demand while adjusting their model due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
“We can’t send our volunteer members out for face-to-face interactions anymore, it’s just not safe,” he said.
“However our volunteer members are very resourceful and in some cases they have adapted by moving to telephone support services, where our volunteers can take a call or do a video call with someone in need, lend a compassionate ear, and offer support such as a much-needed vouchers to buy groceries, pay for critical medicine, pay bills, or refer people to more specialist support services.”
“I know everyone is impacted by this pandemic, but where you can, we are calling on all Queenslanders to assist us to deliver hope to those who need us during the current COVID 19 crisis,” he said.