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Working full-time as a School Services Officer (SSO), studying to be a drama teacher, and volunteering with AnglicareSA’s Star Bear program, Seb is passionate about working with children and making a positive impact in their lives.

“A lot of people ask me why I would work five days a week with children and then volunteer to spend all weekend with them too,” Seb laughed.

“But I enjoy working in schools. Children are so fascinating, and teach me a thing or two.”

Funded by donors and almost entirely run by volunteers, AnglicareSA’s Star Bear program provides free weekend camps three times a year to support children and their families experiencing grief and loss.

The Star Bear camp provides grief support for children aged from six to 13 years, while Star Bear Family camps cater for families with children and young people aged from five to 17 years.

Seb is a trained volunteer mentor and works one-on-one with a different child at each camp to help them in their journey through grief and loss.

“I love that the camp teaches children that everyone goes through grief and they are not alone in their emotions,” Seb said.

“While everyone is there because they’ve lost someone, how they process grief differs.

“I hope each camper I mentor has a great time on camp, but also takes that positive experience and makes it a permanent mindset after the camp.”

With the support of volunteers like Seb, the Star Bear program has supported around 1,100 children and their families since 2002.

Seb said the program was about more than simply providing a safe environment for children and young people to process their grief – it was also about helping them feel like kids again. 

“While there is a serious side to the camp, the campers are also there to have fun with activities such as sports, games, arts and crafts, and tubing. I’ve done my fair share of running and tiring myself out,” he said with a laugh.

Seb said volunteering at Star Bear had been transformative and encouraged others to give it a go.

“Volunteering has been such a wonderful experience so far,” he said.

“I’ve met so many amazing volunteers who I am lucky enough to call my friends, and it is rewarding to know that I have been able to create a positive experience for the campers.”

From 20-26 May 2024, it is National Volunteer Week – a time to celebrate and recognise the amazing contributions volunteers make to our community. At AnglicareSA, we’re proud to have around 300 volunteers who give their time to support people in need.

AnglicareSA is looking for volunteers like Seb to join the Star Bear program and make a difference in the lives of families experiencing grief and loss. To be a Star Bear volunteer, you do not need to have experienced grief or loss, but you will need some security checks to complete training modules. AnglicareSA will support you in obtaining these.

To register your interest in volunteering or to seek further information, please email [email protected]

For Maggie and Mary, volunteering is the perfect fit.

“I grew up in a family focused on giving back, and I think that encouraged me to be an active volunteer,” Maggie said.

Mary added: “You get so much out of volunteering – meeting people, hearing their stories and being able to help them.”

The pair volunteer at AnglicareSA’s Thread Together service, which provides people in need with brand-new clothes that would otherwise end up in landfill.

For Mary, her love of textiles and professional background in textile restoration made volunteering at Thread Together sound intriguing.

“I’ve worked with textiles all my life and hated the idea of clothes going into landfill,” Mary said.

“I loved the concept of being able to help provide people in need with decent clothes that will last them a long time, while making an effort to stop textile waste.”

Maggie, who has been volunteering at Thread Together for nine months, said her career as a paediatric emergency doctor caring for others naturally lent itself to volunteering.

“I have worked with many adults and teenagers experiencing homelessness and also within the domestic violence space,” Maggie said.

“I retired last year and wanted to continue to connect with and help the vulnerable groups of people I used to care for.”

Mary-left-and-Maggie-right-Thread-together-volunteers stand in front of the Thread Together mobile van.

With the support of volunteers like Mary and Maggie, the Thread Together service has clothed more than 29,000 South Australians since 2018.

Maggie and Mary agreed the program was about more than simply providing clothes to people in need.

“Brand-new clothes give people confidence and a sense of dignity,” Maggie said. “And the best part is that the clothes are theirs – they’re not second-hand or unfashionable.”

“It is also vital for our customers to have someone who can help them find new clothes without judgement.”

Mary said: “Some customers had never had an opportunity to choose their own clothes through other providers.

“They just wear whatever they have been given,” Mary said. “To be able to come in and be given the opportunity to browse like they’re in a boutique and choose clothing that represents them is so important.”

She said volunteering never goes out of style and encouraged more people to give it a go.

“There are so many services that are under-supported and under-funded,” Mary said. “Without volunteers, they just wouldn’t happen.”

From 20-26 May 2024, it is National Volunteer Week – an important time to celebrate and recognise the amazing contributions volunteers make to our community. At AnglicareSA, we’re proud to have around 300 volunteers who give their time to support people in need.

We have lots of great volunteering opportunities across our services. If you’re keen to help others, then click here.

AnglicareSA and the City of Onkaparinga recently joined forces in a pilot project helping people not only shop smarter and healthier – but importantly cut down on their grocery bills.

Led by the City of Onkaparinga and AnglicareSA’s Communities for Children Onkaparinga, the Smart Shopper Tours also brought together The Green Gourmet, Rotary Club of Seaford, and Drakes Supermarket for two-hour sessions to help strengthen family meal planning skills.

The sessions were hosted at Drakes at the Seaford Central Shopping Centre with participants learning how to shop for and cook with healthier, less expensive foods, understand food labels, shop based on the seasons, all while making savings by buying for better value.

Janine Carger, AnglicareSA Manager, Children and Families South, said the Smart Shopper Tours were a fantastic initiative at a time when many families are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Food security, healthy cheap meals, and opportunities for connection in the community for children and their families featured strongly in a community wide consultation, undertaken by our Communities for Children Onkaparinga team,” Janine said.

“This consultation highlighted a real interest and need within the community for more information and ways to save money in the supermarket.

“Communities for Children reached out to the City of Onkaparinga, which was already working on food security within the community, regarding collaborating on developing a pilot program relevant to and within our own community.”

The Smart Shopper Tour pilot was attended by 20 community members over the four sessions, with an equal split of families with young children and older adults with adult children.

“At each of the sessions, the group was supportive of each other and shared ideas,” she said. “They were very engaged, asked lots of questions, and were eager to learn.

“Many of those who attended revealed they had challenges with ‘fussy eaters’ or dietary restrictions and through the program were able to gain many tips and tricks to help them eat healthier, including increasing their intake of vegetables and replacing snack foods with healthier and money-saving options.”

The Tours were facilitated by The Green Gourmet’s Andrea Ball who is a local food educator and recipe developer with a focus on eating and cooking local, seasonal, affordable foods.

She has extensive experience in health literacy and community engagement programs with young families.

Each participant received a $15 Drakes voucher to spend at the workshop thanks to the Rotary Club of Seaford with the tour finishing at Seaford Library with a recipe development workshop.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were said cost of living was front of mind for many in the community.

“The Smart Shopper Tour pilot program was created in response to the rising cost of living, reduced income and lack of access to good food, which are leading to increased food insecurity,” she said.

“Partnering with AnglicareSA Communities for Children was invaluable because it allowed us to target local families who would benefit the most from the program. The support of Drakes and Rotary Club of Seaford ensured a successful pilot program that provided us with plenty of learnings and feedback for next time.”

Nursing is a role deserving of appreciation – the backbone of the healthcare system, their round-the-clock commitment to care truly makes a difference in the lives of those in their care.

Today on International Nurses Day, we’re thanking the nurses who work across our Aged Care Services for the compassion and exceptional care they deliver to our customers every day.

From administering medication to managing customers’ needs, providing them with social and emotional support, and everything in between, nurses are vital to our customers’ health and wellbeing. 

Passion for helping others

Clinical nurse Xin Hu always knew she wanted to make a career out of caring for others.

“When I was deciding on which university course to study, I was torn between nursing and social work because I have always liked helping other people,” Xin said.

“I decided on nursing because I was passionate about health care and wanted to learn more specialised skills such as wound care.”

In the six years that Xin has been a nurse, she has never regretted her decision.

“I enjoy developing my skills and seeing improvement in my customers’ health. It is rewarding to know that I have helped them improve their mobility, heal their wounds, and improve their overall wellbeing.”

Xin has been a part of AnglicareSA’s Community Aged Care team for four years, providing specialised nursing care in customers’ homes, and said International Nurses Day provided an opportunity to recognise the vital support nurses provide every day.

“It’s a day to acknowledge the role of nurses and value their contribution to the community. Being recognised in this way motivates me to keep working to provide quality care.”

Compassionate nursing that makes a difference

For more than three years, Akash Gill has been one of the friendly nurses making the rounds at AnglicareSA’s Grange residential aged care site.

However, Akash did not always envision that he would become a nurse.

While studying accounting at university in 2019 he realised the world of finance was not for him.

“It was not something I was interested in,” he said.

“The Covid pandemic highlighted a significant need for healthcare workers, including nurses. At the time, I was caring for my grandpa and the things I would do to assist him were developing a nature of compassion that complemented nursing.”

Akash said he loved the strong focus on resident care as an enrolled nurse, and felt honoured to be able to advocate for their rights and health care.

“Some of the customers I care for are in a vulnerable position, and I feel privileged to be able to make sure services are safe and meeting their needs,” he said.

Akash said the compassion and empathy required to provide person-centred care was crucial for nursing and what made it such a fulfilling career.

“It can be an emotionally demanding job that requires a solid understanding of each person’s needs and the skills to help meet them. Being passionate about nursing and each customer makes the outcomes much more rewarding.”

Akash said International Nurses Day provided an opportunity for nurses to learn from each other.

“We might have different thoughts, processes, and skills, but we are all working together to provide continuous, high-quality health care to our customers,” he said.  

AnglicareSA’s Westbourne Park Residential Aged Care site is like Lynne’s second home.

“I feel like I have always been a part of this place,” Lynne said.

For more than 20 years, Lynne has been actively involved at the site – first as an employee, then as a volunteer when she retired.

A Westbourne Park local, there was no other place that Lynne would prefer to volunteer. Passionate about her community, she knew she could make a difference.

“I have an ability to interact with residents and find it to be my passion,” she said.

“Despite retiring, I was still returning to the site regularly to visit the residents I once cared for. I thought I should officially become a volunteer so I could continue catching up with the staff and residents.

“Westbourne Park was the obvious choice – this is where I feel completely comfortable.

“It’s rewarding as a volunteer to see the residents and know what I do makes a difference.”

Now, you’ll see Lynne – or maybe you’ll hear her singing echoing down the halls first – having a ball with the residents at her two monthly programs, Morning Tea with Friends, and Sing-along. 

“I try to run programs that encourage the residents to reminisce,” Lynne said.

Volunteering in aged care has been a wonderful experience for Lynne and she encourages everyone to give it a try.  

“The residents in aged care are just like you or me, except they’ve lived a longer life,” she said.

“Everyone should think about the skills they have and how they could use them to volunteer.”

Customer Wellness Coordinator Jennifer Pilling said the Westbourne Park team were grateful to have a volunteer like Lynne who makes such a difference with each visit.

“Lynne has dedicated so much of her time to care for others at Westbourne Park,” Jennifer said.

“She is wonderful with the residents and makes each one feel special and welcomed.”

You can Register Your Interest online here, or alternatively view our current volunteer opportunities here.