The knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic have created levels of social and economic upheaval that many have never experienced before.
Frontline medical workers have been pushed to their limit, thousands of hospitality workers have been stood down, and disadvantaged communities are more vulnerable than ever as their usual support networks are throttled by the virus in myriad ways.
But a crisis often brings out the best in the community, and in Melbourne we’ve seen countless new charity initiatives launched in response to the pandemic. We’ve rounded up just a few here, many of which you can support with donations.
Wholesaler Clamms Seafood, which usually supplies some of the city’s best restaurants (Cutler & Co, Cafe Di Stasio and Stokehouse among them), has been working with different Australian fisheries to provide free seafood and paella to hospitality workers who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
And restaurants across the city, from Attica to Chin Chin (and other Lucas Group restaurantsl) to Fishbowl to Half Acre, have developed their own ways to support frontline workers, unemployed migrant workers and vulnerable communities (the homeless and victims and survivors of domestic violence among them) during this period.
Wantirna restaurant Korona Csarda, for example, has been cooking and delivering Hungarian home-style meals to frontline workers every Sunday. The team visits local hospitals, police stations and ambulance depots to drop off free food.
Neil Perry’s Rockpool launched Hope Delivery to provide meals for international hospitality workers and students who are out of work. The service aims to feed around 2000 people a day in Melbourne and Sydney. Food prepared by chefs, restaurant managers and volunteers can be collected by visa holders, or is otherwise be distributed by food-rescue charity Ozharvest. Donations can be made here.
Carlton wine bar Henry Sugar is also giving away meals for temporary visa holders, and anyone made jobless by Covid-19 and not entitled to government benefits. Every Friday the team cooks meals with produce donated from Carlton North residents, and you can email the team to request a meal. Meals can be delivered or collected from Henry Sugar, Kenny Lover or The Woods of Windsor. More information here.
If you’re looking for a way to support those in need of food and other essentials, try Panic Donate. The new platform supports charities responding to the Covid-19 crisis with a website designed to make donating easy and fun. The interactive portal allows you to donate amounts equivalent to common fridge and pantry items, such as bread and milk, to help people understand what sort of impact a small amount of money can make. You then choose which organisation receives your donation. Options include Ozharvest, Lifeline, Unicef and more.
The coronavirus crisis has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard – jobs in the food and accommodation sector alone have slumped by a third. A number of initiatives aim to give unemployed hospo workers a job, while also providing food for those in need.
Charity kitchen Fareshare hired more than 100 chefs at its Abbotsford location to cook meals for vulnerable Victorians. Many of those chefs were stood down as the government closed venues across the country in March. The kitchen has pumped out more than 200,000 free meals for people in need since the pandemic hit Australia, sending food to charities including the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Father Bob Maguire Foundation. You can donate to Fareshare here.
Similarly, in March Melbourne-based social enterprise Streetsmart launched Smartmeals, a program aimed at keeping hospitality staff employed while providing food security in vulnerable communities during the pandemic.
Hospo co-working hub and consultancy Worksmith has partnered with Dinesmart, Scarf Community and Frontline Meals to launch Tip Jar and aims to raise $1 million through small public donations, which will be distributed to hospitality workers who are facing financial hardship and don’t qualify for government assistance. Do your bit by picking up a limited-edition bottled Winter Negroni, made with cocoa husk and pear, from Blackhearts & Sparrows, or donate here. A donation will put you in the draw to win prizes including a year’s supply of beer and a home visit from a world champion bartender.
Help Out Hospo is doing things differently again. The new online hub offers short video cooking courses – with classes including Italian home-cooking, American barbeque, cocktail-making and more – and all proceeds are distributed directly to hospitality workers who have lost work or income due to the coronavirus restrictions. You can view the full course list, donate and apply for support here.
Personal protective equipment
Supply of medical scrubs, which doctors and nurses wear under their protective gear, has not kept pace with demand, particularly in the pandemic’s early days. Protective masks have also been in short supply.
So, many Aussies – from amateurs to professional clothing manufacturers – have stepped up to ensure frontline healthcare workers get the scrubs, gowns, caps and masks they need.
Uniqlo Australia, for example, donated 150,000 medical masks to the Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service as part of its parent company’s initiative to donate 10 million masks to frontline medical workers worldwide. (It also provided every member of the Royal Flying Doctor team with a free puffer jacket heading into winter).
Melbourne design agency Moth Design launched The Happy Scrubs, with volunteers sewing scrubs, gowns and caps for healthcare workers. Fabric, sewing supplies and delivery costs are all funded through donations. The project received an overwhelming number of volunteer applications, so the best way to help now is to donate.
You can also send dollars to Collingwood not-for-profit The Social Studio. It’s also producing scrubs for frontline workers, with garment supply and production costs covered by donations. If you’ve got spare materials on hand, you can arrange to donate them here.
Other ways to help
The Big Issue, Australia’s largest social enterprise, has put its flagship fortnightly magazine online so you can still buy a copy even if you’re self-isolating. Due to Covid-19 the homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people who usually sell the print magazine haven’t been able to do so; half of the digital edition’s cover price goes towards supporting those vendors.
Instances of family violence have increased in Australia since the start of the pandemic. It’s never been a more important time to raise awareness and donate to causes that support victims and survivors. You can view relevant organisations and donate to specific causes here.