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Sikh community works overtime to help those in need

Author: Gemma Wilson

The Sikh Volunteers Australia group have rallied around those in Melbourne’s outer suburbs who are struggling to access groceries, delivering free food to people’s front doors.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Australians on Wednesday they must stop hoarding food as many supermarket shelves across Australia are stripped bare.

"It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis," Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

But there are plenty of Australians doing their bit to help out those in need.

On social media, movements have sprung up encouraging the community to look after the elderly and others who may be struggling. One of those is urging people to slip a note under the door of houses in their area asking if the occupant needs any urgent medications, shopping or even just a phone call if they are feeling lonely.

And in Melbourne’s outer suburbs the Sikh Volunteers Australia group have begun offering free food with home delivery services to those in need.

“We have to do it, because people need it,” vice president, Manpreet Singh, told Insight.

“When you go to the shops and you see people grabbing the toilet paper from each other and fighting over the toilet paper I think it’s better to give something positive to the community rather than the negative.”

For the past three years the volunteer group has been offering free food services for the needy and disadvantaged twice a week. But in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak they not only added an extra night’s food service to their regular schedule, they also decided to deliver food to people’s front door.

Singh said they started receiving calls from seniors in the community afraid to leave their house, from single mums, and those who had returned from overseas and were in isolation, all desperate for food.  Some disclosed they had been diagnosed with coronavirus and were in lockdown.  

In light of the growing need, the group decided to put a post on their Facebook page offering the free food home delivery service for two weeks which began on March 18.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Singh said. “We’ve had too many calls to count.”

Singh said the volunteers are making sure they don’t come into direct contact with anyone who has the virus, and are leaving food at the door for those they know are sick and notifying them when the food has been dropped off.

One their first night, the group delivered 310 containers of food to people’s houses, with the team of volunteers reporting that the overwhelming response from recipients was one of happiness.

In this uncertain time for Australians, Singh encourages the community to rally together.

“Instead of thinking only of our families we should think about the community,” he said.

“In a time of crisis we should help each other.”

Author: Gemma Wilson

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