UnitingCare Taperoo: connecting through community care

Posted in Culture

*Shown above: Susan Close, MP, visited with Cath, the kitchen coordinator, at UnitingCare Taperoo on 29 May 2020.

Lefevre Uniting Church is a pillar in its community. Several years ago, the Port Adelaide-Enfield Council encouraged the congregation to take part in a renewal plan for the Taperoo/Osborne area by starting a low-cost community coffee shop and lending library to complement their Op Shop. The intention was to create a safe place that would become a community centre.

Lefevre UC embraced this challenge with zest, responding to the many commands Jesus gave to care for the weak amongst us.

“In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35.

When COVID-19 struck, the coffee shop and community activities were required to close. But Lefevre UC’s volunteers wanted to reach out to their community in this season even more  than before. So when UnitingCare SA offered the opportunity to form a partnership to establish UnitingCare Taperoo, it was welcomed wholeheartedly. The idea was to provide frozen meals to people struggling to put food on the table as the economic impact of COVID-19 deepened.

Initially all of the meals were cooked by volunteers from the Lefevre and Port Adelaide Uniting Church congregations in the Lefevre Church coffee shop (coffee@63). However, as the demand for meals increased from 17 in the first week to 164 in the last week of May, OzHarvest assisted by supplying additional meals.   

Every person collecting a meal has a story to share. Many have spoken of the way in which the care provided through the initiative has helped them in their time of need.

Jane* should be enjoying her retirement. Instead, she is battling cancer and her daughter’s family has moved in after losing their jobs. A few frozen meals and a good chat with the volunteers have helped her to go away with a little more cheer in her heart.

Sophie* rings every week and talks to the volunteers for 20 minutes when ordering her preferred meals. Being unable to get food from the local supermarket or catch up with friends and relatives has really taken a toll on Sophie. For her and for others, having someone to talk to over the phone when ordering their meals is as important as the food itself.

Pete* came in to see “what all the fuss was about.” After talking for a while, it became clear that his family is experiencing financial stress as a result of Pete being stood down by his employer. He’s the only breadwinner in the family and it’s hard to ask for help. But when several meals were offered, he was thrilled to take them home.

There have also been other families like Steve’s*: when they came in, they didn’t even have any winter clothes for their kids. This is when it is great to have an Op Shop onsite. They were able to pick out some warm things for the whole family.

There are many working-class families and many single-parent families. Overand over volunteers hear the same story: families just scraping by before COVID-19 with one adult working but now unable to keep up once they’ve lost their security.

The community has been such an important part of helping UnitingCare Taperoo to get going. Adelaide-Brighton Cement Ltd, which casts its shadow over Taperoo, jumped in early with a generous grant. The Port Adelaide-Enfield Council has also offered some support. Many thanks also to OzHarvest, who have been supplying frozen meals each week.

Churches that are running UnitingCare Emergency Relief Centres need your support to keep making an impact in their communities. To help support the work of UnitingCare ERCs, please consider making a tax deductible donation to the UCSA UnitingCare ERC Appeal. https://sa.uca.org.au/unitingcare-sa/


*not their real names



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Comments (3)

  1. Sue Ellis 09 june 2020, 17:22 Link
    What a great story — thanks Taperoo — your vision of being a hub in the community is being lived out.