Wimmera residents experiencing loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic will now receive support from local community organisations through the Victorian coronavirus hotline.
Horsham Rural City Council has nominated Uniting Wimmera to be a 'community connector' through the government's Community Activation and Social Isolation Initiative.
Uniting Wimmera community connector Stephanie Purcell said her new role involves receiving referrals from the government's coronavirus hotline and linking callers with local support.
"We have had a lot of people reach out who are isolated from their family and friends," she said.
"Callers can connect with us to have a chat and we introduce them to local activities and groups.
"We also can help elderly people video call their family if they don't have access to technology ... we are teaching people things they haven't done before like ordering online.
"It is very important for people to reach out ... I have definitely seen a decline in people's mental health due to the impacts of coronavirus."
The initiative is part of the Victorian Government's $59.4 million mental health and wellbeing package, helping Victorians with additional support to deal with the significant changes to our lives as a result of the pandemic.
Callers to the hotline will also receive assistance from trained Australian Red Cross volunteers who will provide emotional support and help to callers who may be distressed and anxious.
Uniting Wimmera executive officer Josh Koenig has urged locals to not suffer in silence and to reach out by calling the hotline.
"The last few months have been really difficult and we know there are many people in our community who are really struggling," Mr Koenig said.
"If you were already feeling lonely or isolated before the pandemic, the physical and social distancing may have made these feelings worse.
"These are challenging times, but there's no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed because we're here to help you re-establish your connections with the community."
The Victorian coronavirus hotline can be reached by calling 1800 675 398.
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