As we are all now aware, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a dramatic impact around the globe and Australia is taking unprecedented actions to quell the spread of the virus.
Here at SANDBAG, we have already taken a number of precautionary steps to protect the health and wellbeing of our community members, staff, volunteers, and service users. Today, we are implementing further restrictions to ensure that we can continue to provide essential services to those most in need.
Suspension of Social Activities
In order to protect our vulnerable community members, and to focus our attention on support for those experiencing hardship, we have from today suspended all social events on weekdays in the Sandgate Community Centre, including Ladybirds Social Group, Crafty Capers, Book Club, and the tai-chi and yoga classes.
Support for those experiencing hardship is at this stage continuing as normal, including the Community Café lunches, Bag-a-Bargain, referral support, food hampers, showers and laundry.
Services still operating at present
Our Disability Support Workers are currently continuing to deliver our highly valued Community Linking and Access Services with consideration to the appropriateness of activities and the needs of each client.
Our Counselling Services are currently unaffected, although we are asking anyone showing signs of being unwell to phone rather than attend the Bracken Ridge Hub. We are reviewing daily how best to deliver our counselling support whilst minimising risk.
SANDBAG’s Disability Employment Services are operating as normal. We are monitoring communications from the Department of Social Services, as job seeker requirements may change, and we will keep our participants informed of these changes.
SEED Parks and Property Maintenance, our social enterprise, is busier than they have ever been and struggling to keep up due to wet weather delays in recent weeks and the increased demands upon our cleaning teams. At present we are asking for your understanding as we temporarily put a hold on quoting and accepting any new residential customers. Fortunately, the Coronavirus situation has not slowed SEED down at all. We have reviewed and enhanced our cleaning processes and chemicals, and are taking measures to protect our teams and minimise the impact of any emerging situations.
The Green-P Community Farm is continuing as normal.
We are currently in discussions with the Queensland Government as to their expectations for our Skilling Queenslanders for Work (Individual Support) program and are adapting as required. However, at present the program is continuing with minimal changes.
How you can help us
Whilst it feels counterintuitive, as SANDBAG has always been a connecting point to bring our community together and we warmly welcome everyone, under the current circumstances it would be a great help to us and our community if you can adhere to the following guidelines:
- Phone us rather than attending the centre where possible
- Do not attend SANDBAG’s Sandgate Community Centre if you feel at all unwell, and particularly if you have any flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat, headache, or a cough
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face – we currently have hand sanitiser at the entrance to the sentence, we ask that all visitors use this upon arrival
- Don’t shake hands or touch each other – it’s not rude, it’s caring for each other (we’ve come up with a few fun new ways of greeting each other already!)
- Try to keep a distance of 1.5m from other people – not always easy, but it helps minimise the risk of any transmissions
Contrary to our normal inclusive policies, we’re also seeking volunteers who are NOT elderly or with health conditions that would make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus, to assist at reception at both Sandgate and Bracken Ridge.
We are also recruiting at present for experienced horticulture and cleaning staff to be employed on a casual basis. Our horticulture roles are likely to be ongoing, and are largely working outdoors and not in close proximity to other people, which is one of the safest environments to be. Our cleaners also don’t typically work in close proximity to other people, and are fully equipped and trained in safe practices. Please ask anyone who is interested to contact Kim Wagner on 3269 1952, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Precautions we are taking
There are a broad range of measures we are taking to protect our team and community members, and to ensure that we can continue to support the most vulnerable in our community, including:
- installing hand sanitiser dispensers at Sandgate and Bracken Ridge
- increasing our cleaning schedule, and enhancing our cleaning protocols and products for better infection control
- putting posters and signs around our centres to remind and advise people of appropriate hygiene measures
- allowing staff, where feasible, to work from home more flexibly, and keeping staff from both of our locations separated. We have started conducting online meetings, using screen sharing to collaborate with our colleagues, and are working on additional opportunities to collaborate with each other even when we’re not physically in the same space
- separating our SEED staff into crews that never mix, to again ensure half the team never comes into contact with the other half of the team
- mandating all staff to stay home if they have even the slightest sign of a sore throat, runny nose, cough, or general malaise
- cancellation of ‘social’ activities in the centre until further notice
We recommend you visit the Department of Health website for the most current information about Coronavirus.
SANDBAG recognise that the measures we are taking will impact members of our community, and a number of people may be feeling anxiety and isolation – please always feel free to call and speak with Erin, Garry, Lotus, or another member of our team, we will do our best to be here to support you.
We will post updates to this page to keep you informed as the situation evolves.
Last updated: 18 March 2020, 9:00AM