How care and culture is continuing in crisis at Community and Cultural Connections Inc (CCCi)

How care and culture is continuing in crisis

Greater Sydney has entered into another lockdown, this time with the alarming threat of a fast-spreading variant of COVID-19. Our diverse communities in south-western Sydney have been hit the hardest, and the surrounding areas of inner west, central, and south-eastern Sydney are by no means unaffected.  

CCCi has been adapting its operations in a number of ways to continue to provide much-needed culturally-sensitive support for communities. Our focus has always been to maintain the safety and wellbeing of clients, staff, and the wider community. The lockdown, the threat of the virus, and the uncertainty that we are all facing has been tough for everyone. While face-to-face activities have been suspended, we’ve adapted to other modes of support aimed at maintaining meaningful connections, promoting holistic health and wellbeing, and keeping communities up-to-date with reliable information.

Our bilingual support staff have been connecting with clients via whatever technology is accessible to clients. Whether it’s video calls through Viber, WhatsApp group messages, or a good old phone call on the landline, our staff have been using the means available to check in on clients’ wellbeing, to catch up, and to see their smiles and hear their laughter.

“I really miss the group, and I really miss you. This lockdown makes me feel frustrated and bored”, said an Arabic client during a Whatsapp group video call. 

Movement and wellness activities have been hosted on Zoom, like our Chinese Social Connection group, which saw up to 75 Chinese seniors getting up and dancing to African rhythms in their living rooms last month. English conversation sessions are being held with our Vietnamese social group on WhatsApp and Viber. While they miss the face-to-face activities, the group are eager to meet each week for their virtual session.

Online African Rhythms Movement session with our Chinese Social Connection Group, facilitated by Lucky Lartey. This session was made possible thanks to funding from the Staying Active grant by NSW Health, as well as our partnership with Heartdancers and Asian Women at Work.

During the toughest of times, what is most comforting for our isolated and vulnerable community members is cultural connection. One way to encourage our communities to celebrate and express their culture as well as purposefully engage and contribute during lockdown has been the creation of a “Lockdown Cookbook”, featuring recipes from staff and clients. Beautifully rich dishes that are adapted to the difficulties of finding everyday ingredients during the lockdown have been shared across kitchens, along with the culture, stories and wisdom that accompany these foods.

Our fully vaccinated staff have adhered to a strict covid-19 safe protocol and have continued to deliver essential services such as individual support and transport for vulnerable aged clients. These services have been highly appreciated by clients and their families.

Speeding up vaccination rates for vulnerable community members with a focus on the elderly is another of CCCi’s priorities. In collaboration with Sydney Local Health District and Inner West Council, 27 vulnerable people were fully vaccinated in July.

“I would like to thank all the nurses and support staff at the community hall for organising my Covid-19 vaccination.  I live on my own and am illiterate.  I could never have done this without you. You all are true heroes”, a Vietnamese client said.

Stories of strength and resilience continue to emerge throughout the pandemic, and we are constantly in awe of the generosity and spirit of our communities. That’s what inspires us to continue our work every day.

For any further enquiries, please contact Vi Pham, Executive Officer at Community and Cultural Connections (CCCi).