Unpaid carers in Queensland can now access volunteer and potential employment opportunities after Your Caring Way partnered with Meals on Wheels.

Once again, the Your Caring Way program (a Carers Queensland initiative that offers free employment services and subsidised training options to carers in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania), has reinforced its commitment to working closely with carers to provide solutions that will help them pursue their goals.

The partnership will see carers joining the 10,000 Meals on Wheels volunteers* making a difference in someone’s life across the State, while gaining new skills and increasing their social connections.

It will leverage the experience that both parties can offer to help carers achieve success through a variety of volunteer roles including Driver, Driver Aide, Kitchen Hand, Administration and Gardening.

Your Caring Way Senior Business Development Officer, Mary- Jane Diacopanagiotis, said their work with Meals on Wheels Queensland creates direct pathways for carers to enter into meaningful volunteer positions and gain paid employment opportunities in the long term.

“We know many carers naturally have a nurturing disposition and want to help not only the person they are caring for but others living with hardships,” she said.

“We work to connect people to real opportunities, and this will allow them to access a range of roles that have a direct positive impact in the community; to build relationships with others and make new friends.”

“Overall, they will be doing an activity outside of their caring role; it’s something they get to do for themselves and enjoy doing,” she added.

For more than 60 years, Meals on Wheels has been bringing local communities together by delivering two million meals a year across Queensland, to more than 10,000 people with a wide variety of support needs; not just the elderly but anyone who needs assistance with their nutrition.

Meals on Wheels Member Support, Rachael Speechley, describes this new collaboration as another way of showing the benefits of volunteering to the wider community.

“Most people think this type of work brings a lot of benefits to our clients but there is a lot of research that has gone into the benefits of volunteering on a person’s mental health,” she said.

“A carer who becomes a volunteer at Meals on Wheels will be provided with a very stimulating environment.”

“Volunteering gives them a sense of purpose again by knowing that they’re helping other people. It also increases their own social connections; this could also be the only social interaction that our volunteers have outside of their own homes,” she added.

“If we can help someone who has been a carer, participating in the Your Caring Way program, to volunteer with us and get their confidence back as they enter the workforce, I think that’s a positive outcome,” she said.

“We’ve always supported carers in their home with the provision of meals.”

“The carer relationship can be a very stressful one so if we can assist them by providing meals, that means they don’t have to worry about cooking for one or two nights a week. But this collaboration with Your Caring Way extends that out.”

“We provide the opportunity for carers to come back, volunteer with us and gain new skills.”

“Carers have that personal experience of how important it is to have somebody else to come in and have a chat with you during the day, so we think they’ll be very empathetic volunteers to our clients.”

“Our volunteers really enjoy doing this because it gets them out of the house; it’s very important to them to be able to participate on a regular basis for their own physical and mental wellbeing.”

As a Member Support, Rachael goes out with the volunteers herself.

“I love going out with them. I love going out on a run and seeing our clients. Our volunteers and clients are such a positive bunch of people.”

“We actually have long-term volunteers, people that have been with us for over 30 or 40 years, across different services. They’re very dedicated people.”

*Based on 2019/2020 financial year.