• Steph Stephens

Changing client base because of Covid


Over the past few months, since the beginning of COVID-19, there has been a gradual change in our client base and their needs.


Now that St John’s Care (SJC) is working in collaboration with the Canberra Relief Network (CRN) the cohort of clients receiving assistance from SJC is changing. The CRN is an ACT Government food relief initiative, facilitated by community services, for people who are experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic.

As well as providing food and support to those who struggle with issues related to low income and social disadvantage, SJC has been helping people who, until recently, have had well paid jobs but lost them because of COVID. Unfortunately, these people often don’t know how to negotiate the help and support that is out there.

When a person comes to collect a CRN box from SJC we ask them if there is anything else we can support them with. Quite often they are struggling with utility bills, housing issues or problems with Centrelink. The CRN boxes are available to people in addition to the usual food hampers that SJC provides monthly to clients.

We have also been able to assist these people in collaboration with Street Law, ActewAGL, Care Finance, ACT Housing, Centrelink Community Liaison and Telstra.

An example of this is when Molly (not her real name) came into the Centre a few weeks ago. Molly lives in a nice house on the south side of Canberra with her husband Geoff (not his real name) and their children aged two and four years.

Geoff had been working full time as a salesperson at a local business. Unfortunately, he had only been there for seven months, so he wasn’t eligible for JobKeeper.

Molly and Geoff have a mortgage and a car loan which they would normally be able to afford. Molly had heard about the CRN on the radio and contacted them asking for a food hamper to be delivered to SJC.

When she arrived at SJC to collect her hamper she had her children with her and appeared very flustered. She told the volunteer that she worked part time, but her husband had lost his full-time job and was struggling to get onto the JobSeeker allowance.

I organised for Geoff to come and meet with me. With the support of the Centrelink Community Liaison Worker, I helped him to claim JobSeeker which would supplement Molly’s small income.

However, they still had the issue of the mortgage. Care Finance assisted them with this and the ActewAGL ‘Staying Connected Program’ helped with the gas and electricity bills moving forward. Molly had also been experiencing health problems and needed help with a couple of prescriptions. SJC was able to support this.

Molly and Geoff are not our usual cohort of client but in these difficult times we were able to support them compassionately. They said that they didn’t feel judged, which is something they were very worried about.

Kind regards,

Steph Stephens

Community Worker

Items required: children’s toothpaste and toothbrushes, 500 ml cooking oil, shampoo & conditioner, tinned fruit.

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