You may have seen or heard Bec Baker talking about South Brisbane Community Helpers (SBCH) on A Current Affair, in the Courier Mail, or maybe you heard her on the ABC Brisbane radio program, or on the Keep West End Weird Facebook group. You may also have seen their brochure in your letter box.
I received a brochure in my letterbox, so I decided to contact Bec to ask her more about how the SBCH works and about her thoughts on the new Queensland Care Army and what it means for her local community helpers’ group.
South Brisbane Community Helpers – locals for locals
Bec said that the SBCH started as the Coronavirus talk began to mount, and a member of the community posted that she had been released from hospital but had been told to self-quarantine due to her chest infection (she was tested and cleared for the CoVid19).
“I asked her if she needed anything or any help. She did. While out getting her request, I was thinking there will be more people in her situation – people with low immune systems who are self-isolating, pregnant ladies, older people also. So I thought I should really start a Facebook page where people can go and put in a request for help or call a number to help with loneliness or, if they don’t have Facebook, a number they can call with their request,” Bec explained.
“I was one of (if not the first one) to start something. I posted in our local and neighbouring Facebook community groups and asked if anyone would like to help. The response was overwhelming”.
Bec said that she wanted to keep those people needing help separate from the helpers, so she set up a discrete SBCH Group to link with volunteers.
“I got a key group of core helpers where we brainstormed and nutted out systems and processes. We wanted to keep it very simple for the people requesting help and for the helpers. We didn’t want to get people to download this or that. We also wanted to keep it personal, locals for locals. So that’s how we started, we’ve been very organic and letting the group grow naturally”.
Bec welcomes the new Queensland government initiative, the Care Army.
“They have a bigger budget than us locals, can do fancier things, and can reach more people,” Bec said.
SBCH will definitely continue, Bec told me.
“We are still getting requests; and we still have our card appreciation options where you and your family can make up some thank you cards and notes. I will arrange collection and give to my contacts at hospitals and police stations”.
SBCH covers people in need in the following locations: West End to Graceville, Coorparoo, Gabba to Kangaroo Point, Holland Park, and Indooroopilly.
“But if we get a request further out (which we do) we will find a local helper to do it. We try not to turn people away”.
Types of help
For those in need, SBCH will shop for groceries, collect mail and put these items and deliver to the door.
“Sometimes we even walk the dog for them. With the hotline (3180 2317) sometimes we just calm them down, have a laugh …. just change the topic from the CoVid19 talk,” Bec said.
If a person has high needs that can’t be met by the team, such as those who need accommodation or are experiencing family violence issues, they will be referred onto the appropriate service, Bec told me.
How does it work?
A helper can join via the Facebook group. The team will then ask all volunteers for a blue card and/or will conduct a telephone interview.
The volunteers, or runner-helpers, shop for and deliver goods. Payment is then arranged either in cash or via ETF.
“We have a few security measures in place for the safety of everyone,” said Bec.
SBCH is not a registered charity and so does not take any financial donations, nor do they accept donations in the form of goods. Bec told me that they say no to food donations because it can be risky.
SBCH CarePlus program
Bec is also running the SBCH CarePlus program, where you can register either for yourself or a for a loved-one for a one-off, daily or even a weekly phone call.
“Just a friendly chat, a check-in, you know, to see how the weather is doing at their end”.
“We have also been brainstorming on some pretty cool ideas to keep the community together, active, to chase away loneliness, and keep the blues away,” Bec said, so keep checking in with the Facebook page.
As a small business owner herself, Bec said we need to look after our small local businesses and their mental health as well.
“Not just because I have a small business myself but because they are part of our community. We are in this together and we will get through this together”.
When I asked Bec about herself, she said:
“This isn’t about me; this is about us and our communities coming together to help each other”.
“This whole thing could have ended after I first posted about it. But the community gave it life with my main helpers Tan and Hanna helping me to organise things. Janey, Margot and so many others I should thank – Allie has done most of the flyers in West End and Taylor from Jonathan Sri’s office”.
A big thanks too to Jackie Trad’s team for having 1,500+ flyers printed very quickly for the team.
How to get in touch
So, if you require assistance or someone you know does, and you’d prefer to deal with Bec’s local to local community helpers’ group you can find them on Facebook HERE or call them on 3180 2317.