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Stay connected – Help is just a phone call away

Smiling Mel sitting at a desk holding a phone.

Find out how you can tap into a local support network to help stay connected during COVID-19.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Are you feeling lonely or isolated due to the coronavirus pandemic, or do you know anyone that could benefit from some company or support?

Help is just a phone call away thanks to a new support service designed to help people who are experiencing loneliness, or are socially disconnected from other people during COVID-19.

One call to the state-wide Coronavirus Hotline will connect you with a caring volunteer from the Australian Red Cross, or connect you to local support in your community.

Simply call 1800 675 398 and press option 3 to speak to a volunteer who is trained to talk to you about your needs, or can provide a friendly ear if you feel like you need someone to turn to.

They can also put you in touch with a community connector in the shire who can organise any extra support you might need from a network of local services and organisations.

You can also contact Mount Alexander Shire Council’s COVID-19 support service on 1800 512 446 to speak directly to a community connector.

They can help organise:
• Emotional support like a wellbeing check-in or a regular chat with a local over the phone.
• Practical help such as running an errand, helping you use technology to stay in touch with family and friends, making on online application or ordering shopping over the internet, and
• Link you to social and community activities such as online book clubs, fitness groups, craft groups, learning new skills or volunteering opportunities.

The support is part of the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 Community Activation and Social Isolation (CASI) initiative announced in July.

Council has received funding to deliver the program in Mount Alexander Shire until December 2020, in partnership with the Australian Red Cross and the Department of Health and Human Services.

It is working with a local network of organisations and volunteers who are keen to lend a hand and provide community support.
According to Mount Alexander Shire Community Connector Melissa Fowler, it is understandable that some people are feeling lonely or isolated during this difficult time.

“We don’t always realise how much we rely on social connections with other people to feel happy and well,” said Ms Fowler.

“Physical distancing and COVID-19 restrictions have made it harder to connect. Some people are without their normal support network while others have had to self-isolate for longer.

“The pandemic has left many people feeling lonely. For those who were already feeling vulnerable, it can be even harder to get help.

“We encourage anyone who is feeling alone to call for help, or reach out on behalf of a friend if you think they might need some extra support.

“It might seem difficult at first but it will be good for our health and wellbeing. Even a simple chat over the phone can help you feel better,” said Ms Fowler.

Council is proud to be working with a passionate network of people to assess local needs and deliver and monitor the program in Mount Alexander Shire.

The Mount Alexander Local Support Network is made up of representatives from local neighbourhood houses, health, aboriginal and library services, as well as advocacy, multicultural services, charity, church, education, community and volunteering groups.

While the CASI initiative will benefit anyone who needs support during the pandemic, it focuses on supporting more vulnerable members of the community.

This may include people who are: older and living alone, carers, living with a disability or chronic health condition, social housing tenants, single parents, culturally and linguistically diverse, recently arrived migrants or refugees, Aboriginal Victorians, living within the LGBTIQ+ community or experiencing financial hardship.

For more information visit the CASI page at www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

Older residents can also stay connected and participate in social activities through an online social support hub at www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au/services-information/social-support-hub.

For more information about local COVID-19 support services visit www.connectmountalexander.vic.gov.au.

Image: Say hello to your local community connector Melissa Fowler. Mel is just one of the faces behind a local support network that can help keep you connected during COVID-19 as part of the Victorian Government’s Community Activation and Social Isolation (CASI) initiative.

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