We saw COVID-19 have its effect on local’s and the services which supported them. Scaling back services and working from home were necessary protective health practices but created further uncertainty in an already uncertain future. That’s why it was important to us here at Substation 33 to keep our doors open, as we see ourselves as an essential service in the Logan community. Substation is a place where people can come, be included, find a friendly face, share what’s going on for them and get involved in some work or upskilling. We thought it was important to provide a sense of normality for our volunteers and be a source of reliable information. We knew we had made the right decision when after the Work for the Dole work requirements ceased and social distancing was recommended – many of our volunteers chose to continue to come down and volunteer independently of their requirements.
Needing to keep our dedicated volunteers and staff safe, we set up designing and creating a handwashing station using recycled materials such as a sewing machine peddle, sink, hose and metal barrel. Standing in line, adhering to social distancing requirements, giving each other handwashing tips began to be our own conversations around the water cooler, offering much needed social supports during a scary and isolating time. We also provided safety upgrades to the YFS (Youth and Family Services) head office, installing a clear protective barrier from repurposed perspex which started its life as part of a flat-screen TV donated to Substation 33.
Quickly, we realized that completing school work from home was going to be difficult for some local families. After offering $100 refurbished desktop computers on our Facebook (www.facebook.com/substation33) page we’ve reached 59,048 people and had 1,828 reactions, comments and shares since the 1st of April. We don’t know what ‘going viral’ is but this could be pretty close in Logan! To date we’ve delivered 3004 computers to families in Logan, allowing 600+ children to be online – that very night, learning from home. We’ve had some fantastic community partners who have sponsored computers for families in need or distributed to their own families including Logan Together, Logan City Council, Access Community Services, YFS, Gunya Meta Inc, Logan East Community Neighbourhood Association, The Family Place, Village Connect – Hosanna Logan City,Beenleigh Housing Development Company, Logan Youth Foyer Support Service and the Rotary Club of Logan. It has been amazing to see local services and organisations coming together to make sure children don’t fall behind with their school work.
We heard from volunteers how it was increasingly difficult to obtain regular groceries items and they were forced to purchase more expense brands on already decreased funds. We have been thrilled to offer additional OzHarvest deliveries every 1-2 days so volunteers at Substation and families supported by YFS can have access to fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. Items also contributed to the Logan Community Recovery Hotline where locals could request assistance if they needed to self-isolate. A crowd favourite has been the pallet of high end chocolates – just in time for Mothers Day!
The last 8 weeks have been tough and things at time have seemed shaky but this community is resilient. In line with Substatons ethos of a circular economy, our social enterprise exchanges the usual cycle of make, use, dispose in favour of recycling, skills and innovation. Providing an alternative option for electronic waste we empower people to develop skills, be part of a community and find new solutions to old problems.