Sending thanks to Yooralla’s volunteers during National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week (18-24 May) is the annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers.

We would like to especially thank Yooralla’s volunteers, who aside from their regular invaluable contribution to the organisation, have now joined forces to tackle the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Anita Lynch, whose daughter has been supported by Yooralla for more than 40 years since she was a preschooler, said it was an “easy decision” for her to volunteer for the project.

“People are fearful of the unknown and changes to routines can bring a lot of anxiety. This can have a big effect on emotional and mental wellbeing, and for people with a disability, these effects can be much greater as they are reliant on others for their support.

“I think this pandemic is a real test of character. If we all come together as a community and all pull our weight, we will get to the other side of the pandemic faster,” she said.

Anita hopes that the gown-making initiative will also help ease anxiety for customers’ families, knowing that their family members will be better protected.

“I’m a practical sort of person and for me it was about doing positive, worthwhile things to help the situation. It was also my way of saying thank you to Yooralla for so many years of support,” she said.

Marguerite Russell, who is also volunteering for the project, said that having worked as a nurse, looking after people with chronic illness, and having a brother with a disability, she understood the critical importance of PPE, particularly during a pandemic.

“People with disability face increased risks at this time, particularly those with underlying chronic health conditions and high support needs.

“PPE addresses two things: it protects staff, customers and their loved ones, and it also ensures continuity of service – if staff are protected, they can keep working and supporting customers,” she said.

Yooralla provides volunteers with kits containing everything needed to make a gown. The washable, clothgowns will be used by Yooralla’s frontline workers at residential accommodation services, and when supporting customers at their own homes.

Lynne Ross, whose sister has been a disability support worker for many years, said she was also “delighted” to volunteer, as Yooralla was a big part of her childhood.

“When I was a little girl, my sister and I used to make legacy buttons to help raise money for Yooralla. The disability sector has always been important to our family,” she said.

Lynne makes gowns for Yooralla as part of her local sewing club.

“We found a way to do our part to help in this crisis. It may be a small contribution, but it makes you feel great to be doing something to help,” she said.

Dr Sherene Devanesen, Chief Executive Officer of Yooralla, said the entire Yooralla community was “eternally grateful to all the wonderful volunteers” who were helping address such an important issue.

“Our frontline staff, due to the nature of the work they do, cannot observe social distancing so the full PPE is important, particularly for customers who exhibit symptoms, while they’re waiting for the results of their COVID-19 test.

“This initiative is about minimising the risk, and keeping our customer, staff and the community safe during the pandemic,” said Dr Devanesen.

Please join us in thanking Yooralla’s volunteers, for their work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and their regular contribution to the organisation of Yooralla.

For more information on how you can get involved in National Volunteer Week, visit the Volunteering Australia website or learn more about volunteering at Yooralla.

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