Mercy Services Completes 340 COVID Grocery Runs
When COVID hit in March 2020 Mercy staff and volunteers were assisting over 90 Mercy clients to obtain their weekly or fortnightly groceries. With the cessation of all volunteer services and aiming to limit our staff’s exposure to shopping centres and supermarkets we needed to come up a with a plan how we could safely order and deliver groceries across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
Fortunately, we received wonderful support from Woolworths head office who ensured we were given Priority Assistance for vulnerable people and guided us in setting up a system allowing us to place multiple orders. Our Care Managers then worked closely with all our clients and their families regarding the changes in the shopping process ensuring they were offered choice in their decision making – this left us with 35 clients that we were responsible for.
In the initial period we were challenged by product shortage (will we ever forget the toilet paper debacle?), the sheer volume of people trying to access shopping online and the lack of choice in delivery windows, it could only get better. Our first delivery arrived on the 22nd April, it was a disaster with the bags being all mixed up but the Mercy Shopping Service was in full swing.
Our Day Centre was converted to a shopping hub where orders would come in, be checked and prepared for delivery later that day. There were challenges along the way however our small team always kept the Mercy values close in mind, service, care, respect, justice and unity and reflected those in our service delivery.
On February 25th 2021 the final order was delivered, making in total 344 deliveries that had been made during the last nine months. Most of the clients that we delivered groceries to had not left their home for over six months except for medical appointments, many had little or no family support.
Relationships developed over the phone: we shared birthdays, wedding anniversaries, recipes and tips for surviving isolation. The unexpected outcome of the shopping service was the diversity and skills that developed by a team of ‘misplaced workers’ coming together determined to make this project not only a success, but a pleasure for clients to be part of.
As our services return to a COVID-normal, we are proud to still continue to deliver a wide range of services to clients across the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Singleton areas.
Messages to: Karen Maloney, Volunteer Coordinator, Mercy Services