Here at Westpoint we’re celebrating Neighbourhood Good. We’re proud of our community, and the people working in it to help others. In our neighbourhood, people are creating positive change every day, making lives better, taking care of those in need and creating a place where we all feel safe and welcome. That’s why we’re sharing their stories with you – to show you that there is so much good in our community, and to say how proud we are to be a part of it. Because ours is a place for everyone, where our community comes together.
Meet Amber Bulbert, Team Leader for Social Support and Food Services from Meals on Wheels, Blacktown.
Ask Amber why her job is so important in the community, and her answer is simple.
“Some people are vulnerable and they need that extra support, and it's being able to help them because they're not always able to help themselves,” she says.
“It gives the family a peace of mind to know that their family member is getting a nutritious meal, a wellness check and we’re ensuring that they're OK.”
And she’s right, of course. Meals on Wheels has been giving out food and looking after the community for many years and has been a lifeline for so many elderly people. But what you may not know is that it does so much more than simply deliver dinners to people’s homes.
“One of our slogans is ‘More Than Just a Meal’,” says Amber. “As well as providing that meal, we also provide social contact. Our volunteers deliver the meals and they check on client’s well-being, and they get to know them. If they notice that something isn't right or maybe they're not answering the door, they inform us, and we follow up.”
And that isn’t all that Amber and her team do every day.
“Part of my role is overseeing the social days,” she says. “Supervising the cook, the volunteers, organising the activities for the clients, ensuring that we have a menu that meets the nutritional needs of the clients. We hold different events throughout the year and provide a range of activities for the clients to participate in.
“We have our social days that occur every week on a Monday, Thursday and Friday. We also have culturally specific groups that include our Filipino Group and Chinese Group. We cook food that's specific to their culture or they want to try meals from different cultures – and we give them what they want.
“And every month we plan outings to different venues including parks and restaurants. Somewhere where they wouldn't normally be able to get to if it wasn't for us.”
Add to that joint programs run with other groups – like Riverstone’s Neighbourhood Centre and their Men's Shed, for example – and it seems there is a lot more to Meals on Wheels than we think.
“Well, the social connection is the most important,” says Amber. “As well as healthy meals, it's also that connection that people have with each other. Whether it's when they come into social day and they build those friendships with the other clients, or it's that relationship they build with that volunteer.
“Every situation is different, but the majority of our clients are elderly,” she continues. “Whether they have no family or their family lives far away or they all work. They're at home by themselves a lot of the time. So, it's important that we have that connection with them.”
“We have noticed that a lot over the last six months or so with COVID, that a lot of people were very isolated. We have had to find different ways that we can still connect with them but still keep those safety measures in place.”
For Amber, it’s connection that’s the most important thing when it comes to the Blacktown community.
“For me community is about looking out for each other and being there for each other and helping out where you can, when you can,” she says. “There are a lot of people that are lonely out there. Make sure that in your neighbourhood, with your neighbours, you’re checking on them. It's about just being aware of what's going on and noticing if there's any changes.”