As the clutches of the COVID restrictions tighten we are all thankful for connection through technology. With loved ones out of physical reach, the ubiquitous Zoom is a comfort within our familiar four walls.

This crisis makes us realise how important connection is, and how lack of connection lies at the heart of so much of the work we support at MPF.

Many of our community services have ceased or severely curtailed activity. Those that are deemed essential, e.g. providing food and emergency relief, are stretched further, not just because of demand, but because of the strains on their own volunteer and staff pools.

The Southern Peninsula Laundry and Shower Program, still in operation with wonderful staff from Southern Peninsula Community Support and Information Centre, provides food and washing facilities to people experiencing homelessness. While these are always a welcome relief, what really matters is the human connections that the biweekly service provides.

We were delighted to recently support SPCSIC in the establishment of a new full-time Assertive Outreach role that will build upon the connections SPLASH has created, and provide intensive case management to assist people towards their goals.

Thanks to Rye and Districts Community Financial Services Ltd for initial funding, and Collier Charitable Foundation, Jo Grigg OAM, John Grigg and Debbie Dadon AM for quickly providing the balance of funds required to get this position in place. With assistance from the MP Shire, State Government support has also been activated.

This wonderful example of community collaboration at all levels is what MPF is all about. Working with people. Drawing more out of existing resources and getting to the heart of the issues.

Schools are also places of community connections, seriously challenged by remote learning. While staff have stepped up tirelessly and many children are engaging successfully, the extra stresses on families already at risk have meant some children have literally disappeared. This time around is definitely tougher.

With donor support, we have ramped up on-site counselling for children and parents, individual educational assistance and, the provision of IT and food programs to over 350 families.

Our early years speech and oral language program, No Limits, has pivoted quickly to an online format with innovative changes and some unexpected benefits. Zooming online has allowed the nearly 40 program practitioners to meet regularly to share learnings and build a community of practice that will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the program that is addressing low rates of oral language in the early years.

And while the long-term, systemic change is underway with our major programs, the immediate wins are equally important. The team at Wallaroo Primary couldn’t be happier with a fully renovated kitchen thanks to the generosity of the Barr Family Foundation. As soon as schools re-open, they will be cooking up a storm.

We’re so grateful to our donors who contribute at all levels to our work – from the big picture strategic investments in systemic change to the immediate, straight forward support that changes current circumstances.