By Therese Poulton, Jane Rogers and Erin Snelgrove
Since moving from their home for the last 13 years at the now defunct Redfern Centre in St Saviour’s Anglican Church, the services have established their new base in Ultimo and are focused on continued collaboration, strengthening the supports each continues to provide in the City of Sydney local government area.
Therese Poulton, Manager of Neighbour Connections (NC), and Jane Rogers, Manager of South East Sydney Community Transport (SESCT) report that despite some teething problems – not least of all the limited phone access for clients – the services continue to go from strength to strength.
Now located in a commercial environment, both services are disappointed that visits from clients will no longer be possible, however SESCT has organised a monthly outreach service – an opportunity to catch up,make bookings and share a cuppa.
Where Our Place (Poets Corner)
Where Third Monday of each month 2 – 4pm
Who New and existing clients are welcome.
The first session will be held on Monday 15th April.
SOUTH EAST SYDNEY COMMUNITY TRANSPORT
With a focus on providing accessible and affordable transport to individuals isolated from their community through transport disadvantage, South East Sydney Community Transport (SESCT) works to ensure all members of the community have equal access to safe and affordable transport options, which promote their health and wellbeing and enable them to exercise choice and participate in community life. Primarily funded through the Home and Community Care (HACC) program, the main focus is on the provision of transport services to the frail, aged, younger people with disabilities and their carers.
SESCT offer transport options for social, shopping and medical trips, as well as social assistance. Subject to availability, bus hire is also possible. Running two shuttle services from Redfern to Broadway and Woolloomooloo, last year minivans were introduced to the fleet – allowing small groups of people to travel together.
SESCT supports individuals to access amenities and participate in community life through:
Direct delivery of a range of transport services.
Collaborations with like-minded agencies to deliver improved transport options.
Lobbying for change on transport related issues.
SESCT operates a continuum of services with a focus on re-enablement. Client needs assessments are undertaken, with reassessments determining the most appropriate level at any given time. There are five levels of service provision:
Village to Village This free access service is funded by the City of Sydney to enable all community members to reach facilities such as hospitals and shops and links in with other public transport. It runs to a fixed timetable each week on Thursday and Friday. If extra assistance is required, our bus drivers will advise passengers of other SESCT services.
The Blink is for lower level HACC (aged and disability) eligible clients. These passengers don’t need a door to door service but require more help than the Village to Village can offer. The Blink picks up clients from public bus stops and passengers are assisted on and off the bus.
The Shopping Bus is the traditional HACC shopping service, a door to door service with a bus assistant to help passengers on and off the bus.
Bus Assist Passengers are met at the shopping centre by a volunteer who helps them negotiate the shopping centre. Volunteers are provided by South East Neighbourhood Centre and Neighbour Connections
The Assisted Shopping Service This model uses a wheelchair accessible minivan to assist clients who can’t use the regular HACC shopping bus service. Each client is allocated a personal shopper to assist them at the shops and at home to put away the shopping.
Funding from the Department of Health allows us to provide limited transport services to hospital appointments for those who don’t meet the HACC criteria, however health related transport continues to be a major challende with community transport struggling to meet demand.
Over the 32 years of operation growth in funding and a focus on service reviews, we adjust our services to meet the changing needs of our clients but while the service has grown and developed significantly over the years, there is still much to do. Managed by a committee of local residents and workers, we encourage people to join the organisation and have input into the delivery of our services.
Aiming to reconnect people to the community, Neighbour Connections provides flexible social support services to people living in the City of Sydney local government area who are frail, aged or have disabilities, together with their carers’ in order to reduce social isolation and support people to live independently in the community.
The service began over 20 years ago, when concerned residents identified elderly neighbours not coping on their own. What was needed was the kind of things neighbours do – an escort to the doctor, help to get to the bank or do the shopping – someone to share a cuppa with.
Interaction between clients is vital, with large events held at Christmas and throughout the year to complement the more regular activities including trips to the movies, exercise classes and BBQs; clients are contacted regularly as part of our ‘friendly chat service’; and our work to assist individuals to reconnect with the community may also involve negotiating with for example, Housing NSW for appropriate housing for someone with limited mobility.
With three full-time staff, 10 part-time and a host of volunteers, clients are assessed and matched with a social support sorker or volunteer according to their needs. There are three specialist workers, one Chinese speaking, one Russian speaking and one for clients diagnosed with dementia.
Relying heavily on volunteers to assist clients maintain their independence, much effort is put into providing appropriate training and support. Neighbour Connections are always looking for new volunteers!
Originally published in Inner Sydney Voice, Issue 117, Autumn 2013