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Mercy Connect Perth – Opening Up

By Mercy Works, 14 September 2020
A Mercy Connect English class, in the pre-COVID times, in Perth. Image: Mercy Works/Supplied.

 

Business as usual is no longer, after lockdown, Mercy Connect is opening up again

This year, Mercy Connect Perth began the year like any other, supporting 22 schools located mostly in Perth’s north-eastern and south-eastern suburbs. Sixty-two volunteers were gearing up again to walk back through school gates to mentor refugee and asylum seeker students both new and old.

It was as the month of March was coming to an end, that Mercy Connect did too. The rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic shut down volunteering across Australia.

In line with other states, Western Australia implemented strict measures to restrict movement in an aim to suppress the spread of COVID-19. This meant the closure of schools and the temporary closure of the Mercy Connect program in Perth.

Gradual improvements in the state’s level of virus transmission gave the WA Department of Education the results needed to once again allow visitors into schools.

Volunteers have been able to enter schools since the 8 June, however, many of them have made their own decisions about when they will return. Some chose to go back immediately while others have decided to wait until they are ready.

They were continually informed about the situation giving them the facts to make an educated decision, keeping their own safety their number one priority.

Volunteers have expressed their gratitude to our Coordinator, Jennifer Davies, who stayed in contact throughout these difficult times. They have shared statements of support and excitement as they begin again mentoring the students they had suddenly left behind back in March.

Geraldine said, “It’s wonderful to be back in the classroom. I missed the children a lot and they were all so excited and pleased to see me again.”

Janine said, “I would love to resume as soon as my school would like to do so.”

Rose added, “We have decided to start fresh in Term 3 giving time for the Principal to organise my assistance in the classroom.”

Mercy Connect doesn’t only consist of in-school mentoring but also adult English Language classes for parents who are also refugees and asylum seekers. These classes are held at Koondoola Primary School where up to 15 parents attend sessions. They are assisted by three volunteers and our Coordinator, Jennifer, to improve their English language skills in weekly classes.

Now that these classes have resumed, Mercy Connect Perth is back up and running as it was before the sudden lockdown. While nothing is the same, it is comforting to know that essential support services are able to continue assisting some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

Published with collaboration from Mercy Works.

 

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