As we reflect on the past 4 months of safety restrictions impacting what we normally do at Streetlevel, the feelings are mixed. For a community that thrives on connection with each other, two hours a day serving lunch from the end of the driveway initially felt strange to be so physically distant and somewhat disconnected. But we are grateful, and know in this time we are privileged as an organization to still able to be present in some capacity. We’ve always been a community that stands with each other in the good and tough times, and so while what we do day to day has had to change; our heart remains the same. In a time of such uncertainty, it’s not just about what we can provide people, but the certainty of our presence that is valuable.
We’ve been grateful in this season to know that some of our friends have been put up in temporary accommodation and given reprieve from sleeping rough, and trust that this is why we’ve seen them less. We’ve welcomed those new faces who have needed support for the first time ever, and helped them begin to navigate ‘the system’. We’ve provided welfare assistance and referral information to many vulnerable international students, and been a place for people feeling isolated to come and check in and know they have a place where they are missed if they don’t. We’ve made some good connections and felt supported by schools and other organisations through their donations and collaborations. For the month of May were spoilt by local restaurants providing lunch a couple of days a week, we look forward to keeping these connections into the future. We’ve loved hearing stories of how our community are being good neighbours, and experienced love and care from others around them.
As we think ahead though, we are aware that the number of people we see in a two hour timeframe each day has roughly doubled and this will only increase as some of the initiatives that have been keeping us and our community afloat; increased jobseeker, temporary accommodation, jobkeeper to name a few, cease. We know that the months of isolation and change will impact the mental health of many in our community. We don’t really know what our ‘new normal’ will look like. This season has taken a new level of creativity, intentionality and collaboration to build resilience. And these things will certainly shape how we continue to stand with and be present with our community going forward.