By Danielle Kutchel
More than half of those seeking assistance from Cornerstone Contact Centre in Dandenong are new clients.
That’s according to Cornerstone’s CEO, Naomi Paterson, and it drives home the sobering impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
She said around 30 to 40 percent of current Cornerstone clients are regulars, while the majority are new families and individuals.
In particular, Cornerstone volunteers are seeing more asylum seeker families and international students – those who are receiving little to no financial assistance from the government, and are unable to work at the moment.
“Some people who we’re supporting have no source of income at all,” Ms Paterson explained.
She hopes that the Covid crisis will eventually prompt a consideration of how these people came to be in such dire straits.
“At the moment material need is the obvious need and it’s a need we can see and thankfully, address, but as we move forward out of this stage, we need to identify the cracks in the system that meant some of these people wound up in this situation in the first place and what we can do to address that,” she said.
Meanwhile, Cornerstone has recently announced a new initiative to make it easier for members of the community to donate to their material aid support.
In response to enquiries has to how to donate groceries towards Cornerstone’s food parcels, the organisation has joined forces with Coles to arrange for donations via online shopping. Shoppers can choose to donate groceries to the Cornerstone online donations account with Coles via their usual online shop.
“People can order directly through online shopping and we’ll pick it up once a week,” Ms Paterson said.
“We’re hoping that will be a really positive thing – even beyond this period, once we move into whatever normal looks like, I think it’s something that will be really helpful moving forward.”
The City of Greater Dandenong is also donating fruit, vegetables and non-perishable items to Cornerstone each week.
Cornerstone has joined forces with other local material aid organisations in the Greater Dandenong Consortium, supporting each other to provide aid to the community.
Cornerstone is currently accepting financial donations and donations via Coles online shopping. For details on donating through your online shop, visit https://www.facebook.com/CornerstoneDandenong/posts/3406482279410739
Donations of clothing can be directed to the Avalon Centre.