Caring for the Carers
Michael Liddy, the Society’s Victorian state president, on a new initiative volunteers in his state are undertaking.
‘Many people know the Society for its well branded retail arm and soup vans,’ Michael says.
Then there’s the lesser known but no less important help its dedicated members and volunteers deliver, such as assistance for relatives of people receiving emergency treatment in Melbourne who don’t have anywhere to stay, and can’t afford a hotel.
‘Some have never been “to the big smoke” and wouldn’t know their way around at all,’ Michael points out.
Aside from arranging temporary accommodation, people standing by while loved ones receive medical care at St Vincent’s Hospital are also offered maps of the city, Myki transport cards, vouchers for food, vouchers that can be used at the nearest Vinnies shop, and toiletry packs.
The assistance is being provided by members through a new special work, Matthew’s Offering.
It is hoped the Society will eventually have similar arrangements in place with Melbourne’s other seven teaching hospitals.
As Michael points out, while people are being treated at St Vincent’s Hospital, other family members, especially children back home, might be feeling vulnerable.
‘There might be a relative looking after the children. But they might be short of money for food and so on. So we also want to assist family members left at home who might need it,’ he says.
Such work is delivered by members who live in the region where the hospitalised patient normally resides.
To be of true value to our companions, Michael says we need to understand what their real, underlying needs are.
‘They ask us for things which are usually relatively easy to respond to. But they don’t always disclose, for reasons which are understandable, what it is that is really at the heart of the situation they are in,’ he says.
‘We know there is an issue there. We are not sure how to work our way through it,’ he says.
‘But we will give it a go.’
Michael Liddy has been an active member of the Society since joining the Donvale Conference in Victoria 2000. From 2007 to 2009 he was the Ringwood Regional Council President, and from 2009 to 2013 Michael was the Eastern Central Council President.
Until his appointment as the Society’s Victorian State President in 2014, Michael was also a member of the VincentCare Victoria board, and sat on their governance committee and social policy and research committee.
He will be representing Victoria at the Society’s National Congress 2017.