MAX WILLIAMSON AND STAFF WRITERS
This year has been a difficult, uncertain year for people around the world thanks to COVID-19, but amongst the stress and the chaos there are local groups going to great lengths to help communities get back on their feet.
The Pacific Islands Council Queensland’s youth group, PICQ Youth, is one of those groups.
In April, PICQ Youth started a special project, known as Share the Love, to help people affected by COVID-19 lockdowns in Brisbane by delivering them much-needed food hampers.
“We saw how COVID-19 was affecting people so we [PICQ Youth] teamed up with YMCA Brisbane and Brisbane City Council to try and help our local communities,” PICQ Youth President Michael Gorogo said.
And while lockdown has long since ended in Brisbane, the project is still going strong, helping others in need.
“What we do is every two weeks on Saturday we get the youth group together and deliver fruit and vegetables to people in need,” Mr Gorogo said.
Pacific Islands Council Queensland (PICQ) is a non-profit organisation that represents the many Pacific Island communities around Queensland, working alongside local, state and federal governments, as well as providing various initiatives and services for their local communities.
PICQ president Ema Vueti has been involved with the organisation since its inception in 2008 and has seen the organisation grow considerably since then.
“PICQ has a mandate to be a voice for our Pacific community, but we are also the link between the governments and the local community leaders, when we receive information from any level of government, we then provide this information to the community leaders,” Ms Vueti said.
PICQ Youth, was formed by Michael Gorogo and a few other PICQ members as a way to get more young people involved in their communities.
The group runs projects and events aimed at youth with Pacific Island heritage to promote a community atmosphere and help build connections within the different Pacific Island communities around Brisbane.
Like many new enterprises during the pandemic, PICQ Youth used the internet and social media to find recipients for their Share the Love project, putting out their first call for participants on April 12.
The group encouraged people to sign up if they, or anyone they knew, were in need of food or essential items.
Mr Gorogo said the group had provided hampers to around 50 different families over the course of the project, with the highest number of deliveries in one single day being 30.
“We officially have 10 people in the youth group, but when we first started the group we told people that it was a volunteer commitment as we knew that as young people they had school and work, but during the lockdown time everyone really stood up and worked hard volunteering their time,” he said.
The food that is given out comes from YMCA Brisbane and, fortunately, project was able to help every family that signed up.
Mr Gorogo said the service had continued after the COVID restrictions lifted, helping others in need.
“When the restrictions started to be lifted and people were able to go back to work, we had people that had signed up calling us and saying that they didn’t need to hampers anymore, and they suggested other families that may need it more than them,” he said.
PICQ Youth member Alexandra Pitcher said the Share the Love project was important to Brisbane’s Pacific Islander community because many in the community did not qualify for financial support from the government.
“I think Share the Love [project] is an essential service because the pandemic has been heartbreaking and stressful for so many people,” Ms Pitcher said.
“Many Pacific Islanders aren’t eligible for Jobkeeper because they’re not citizens or don’t qualify just yet for permanent residency, or are here on working visas,” she said.
“So being able to provide that little bit of help by delivering food hampers and toiletries to those affected in our own communities is very gratifying.”
For more information about PICQ Youth or the Share the Love project, visit www.picq.com.au.