Neighbourly support for those most in need


Benjamin Millar

While health authorities continue to make the case for “social distancing” to slow the rate of coronavirus spread, the inner-west’s support network are swinging into action to make sure nobody falls through the gaps.

West Footscray Neighbourhood House marketing and programs coordinator Rebecca Gelsi knows better than most how close to the edge some of our most vulnerable residents are and has made it her mission to make sure in the race to prepare ourselves that they are not forgotten.

Ms Gelsi has joined a number of people working through social media to help ensure people’s basic needs are still being met.

But she has taken things literally a step further, walking the streets and dropping flyers into letterboxes to spread the word that it is time to all support each other.

“There’s a lot on social media, but the reason I did a street walk group is that not everyone is on social media,” she said.

“At least everyone knows who lives next door and if they are elderly they know we are there if they need us.

“If we have the ability, we need to be that support so when people are saying ‘please help, I’ve got nothing’, we can be there.”

Ms Gelso said the closure of the Neighbourhood House will be a blow for those who depend upon the service for support and social contact.

“Some of them have pretty complex needs, but they are very resilient people,” she said.

“We are closing our program, but we are putting in place a buddy system between staff members and the community members who come in who are particularly vulnerable so we can look after them.”