Many Australians are struggling through lockdowns at the moment, but at least the vast majority have warm houses in which to pass the time. With winter well and truly biting, our homeless communities are stuck outside in the freezing cold with very few resources.
Two enterprising young women, Gali Blacher and Maddy Jones, are working hard to keep our homeless Australians warm and fed during the lockdowns through their social enterprise, The Good Box.
“We make beautifully packaged gift boxes that are purchased by the public online and then handed to our homeless community,” co-founder Gali said. “We currently have close on 1000 orders a week from our charity partners who require our winter box which is a box filled with wonderful winter items such as a hoodie, beanies, soup sachet and more.”
The impact of the Good Box’s offering is immediate and heartfelt. One recipient at Vinnies Kitchen one of their boxes said, “It’s very good to be able to wear a nice warm hoodie in the cold winter.” And a homeless person who got a Good Box from Lou’s Place added, “Receiving a Good Box is like going to a nice spa day!”
Fellow co-founder Maddy stressed the importance of continuing to help those who most need it, despite the challenges that lockdowns present in achieving this.
“During lockdown a lot of support services stop, and we get non-stop phone calls from various organisations and charities for our boxes as they help keep our homeless community warm and remind them [that] they matter!” Maddy said. “Each box has a personalised note inside the box to help instil dignity and brighten up the day of someone doing it tough.”
As an example of the challenges, The Good Box received a phone call last week from a Melbourne resident who was trying to find support for a man sleeping rough on the streets of Moonee Ponds with no warm clothing.
“The lady couldn’t receive any support for this man as it is lockdown, but he was lonely and cold on the streets of Melbourne while everyone else was in their warm house,” Gali bemoaned. However, The Good Box were able to connect the man to support services and organised for a winter box to be sent to him, providing him with the essentials he needs for survive the winter and a good meal.
Gali and Maddy are desperate to help more homeless people and concerned that if they don’t receive more support, they won’t be able to fulfil the need from their charity partners.
“We are inundated with requests right now to send through Winter Boxes and we just can’t keep up with the need,” Maddy explained. “We really need further support from the community to help our friends in need.”