Major Brendan Nottle, Commanding Officer, The Salvation Army
James Rose, peer worker, cohealth Homeless Health & support Services team
Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive, cohealth
A partnership between cohealth and a number of homelessness services in the CBD and inner city – including the Salvation Army Magpie Nest café in Bourke St and Anglicare Lazerus Centre at St Peter’s Church – will see vaccines added to the menu for people experiencing homelessness and other disadvantage.
Embedded within the cohealth team of nurses and social workers will be several ‘peer workers’ – people who have experienced homelessness who now work for cohealth helping to deliver support and services.
cohealth’s mobile vaccination van will visit the following sites:
Salvation Army Magpie Nest café, 69 Bourke St, Melbourne
24 – 26 November, 11am-7pm
Lazerus Centre, St Peters Church, 15 Gisborne St East Melbourne
29 – 30 November, 7am – 10am
This activity will coincide with the breakfast service
St Mark’s Community Centre, 250 George Street, Fitzroy
29 – 30 November, 12.30pm – 2pm
This activity will coincide with the lunch service
Innerspace drop-in centre, 4 Johnston St, Fitzroy
22 – 26 November, 10.30am – 4.15pm
The Salvation Army Magpie Nest café in Bourke Street has continued operating throughout the pandemic as a takeaway-only service, welcoming up to 150 people per day for takeaway breakfast, lunch and dinner. By bringing the pop-up clinic to the door, cohealth is ensuring that the vaccine is accessible to marginalised people.
COVID vaccines will be on offer alongside hot meals at the Salvos café, Lazerus Centre, St Mark’s Community Centre and Innerspace, with cohealth’s van pulling up curbside along with a team of cohealth nurses, social workers and peer workers (staff with a lived experience of homelessness who help deliver services).
No appointments are necessary, and people don’t need a Medicare card to get the vaccination.
The cohealth vaccination mobile clinics are funded by the Victorian Government to support people experiencing homelessness to get vaccinated, including pop-up clinics at hotels where people are staying while awaiting housing, and a mobile vaccination van.
“As the city begins opening back up it’s crucial that no-one is left behind in the vaccine rollout. Bringing the vaccine to people who don’t have a secure home, or are in crisis, is a vital piece of the puzzle in living with the pandemic,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.
Ms Bartholomeusz said that including people who have experienced homelessness on the vaccination team allowed cohealth to build trust quickly with the target client group.
“Our peer workers are essential to the vaccine rollout to the homeless community. Their experience of homelessness enables them to connect with people and gain trust,” she said.
Major Brendan Nottle, Commanding Officer at the Salvation Army, said that the Magpie Nest Café has stayed operating throughout the pandemic via a streetside window, and that demand had increased due to COVID.
“The economic and social impacts of COVID have meant we’re seeing people outside of our usual client group seeking food and support, many of whom have never had contact with homelessness services before,” said Major Nottle.
“It’s great to be able to bring the vaccine to where people are. The people we support are far more vulnerable to getting COVID because of their housing situation. Many of our clients are reluctant to go to mainstream doctors and hospitals, so the Magpie Nest Café is a safe place for people to ask questions about the vaccine and feel supported to go through the vaccination process,” he said.
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More on cohealth:
cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.