Mums call for help after lockdown

Rhonda Coffey, Tamara Maddrell, Kelly Suvoltos and Margaret Burke. (Ivan Kemp) 239990_07

By Luke Voogt

Pleas for help to a Geelong charity helping disadvantaged families increased by almost a third in April and May amid the halting of JobKeeper and, later, a statewide COVID-19 lockdown.

The initial seven-day lockdown beginning in late May halted donations to Geelong Mums and caused multiple shortages, according to the group’s partnerships co-ordinator Kelly Suvoltos.

“Staff were still onsite and distributing items to social workers,” she said.

“But we had no donations from the public or volunteers allowed onsite.

“With things not coming in, we’re certainly seeing gaps on our shelves and we’ve had to put some items on a waiting list.”

The organisation is desperately seeking cots, prams, child car seats, coats and blankets for struggling families.

“We were really low on blankets as soon as the weather started to turn cold,” Ms Suvoltos said.

Geelong Mums assist the homeless and unemployed, asylum seekers with no access to government assistance, those fleeing family violence and other families in need.

More than 40 per cent of the families that Geelong Mums support have been “directly affected” by COVID-19, according to the organisation.

But their annual giving day next Wednesday (June 16) has come at “the perfect time after lockdown”, according to Ms Suvoltos.

“Our community was amazingly generous last year,” she said.

“So fingers crossed for the same this year.”

Geelong Mums’ partner organisations will quadruple every dollar donated during the giving day.

“Because of the community’s generosity on giving day last year, we managed to continue supporting families in need throughout a global pandemic and multiple lockdowns,” Geelong Mums general manager Julia Roache said.

“Donations from giving day this year will give us another opportunity to help even more children than ever before.”