'It feels like they're the forgotten souls': Concerns for Mandurah homeless amid pandemic

Halo Team founder Dee Freitag holds grave concerns for the health and wellbeing of the Mandurah homeless population amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A shortage of quality food, less access to public facilities and an inability to socialise has greatly affected day-to-day life for the Peel region's homeless.

Support organisations such as the Halo Team are doing what they can to provide food, clothing and conversation to those in need, but social distancing restrictions have had a significant impact on their ability to do so.

"We normally have the community centre open and our op shop runs six days a week, but the centre has been turned into a crisis response facility and we've had to close the shop," Ms Freitag said.

"We're still working with organisations like Foodbank to help get meals and hampers out, mainly a lot of stuff they can eat straight away or heat up easily.

"I'm extremely concerned about the nutritional value in the food a lot of them are getting, though. It's the best of a bad situation but a lot of the time it's not a healthy, hearty meal.

"It feels like they're the forgotten souls."

Mandurah's homeless are doing it tough during the pandemic. Photo: File image.

Mandurah's homeless are doing it tough during the pandemic. Photo: File image.

While the importance of a nutritional diet cannot be understated, the Halo Team remained equally concerned for the mental health of those doing it tough during the pandemic.

The organisation's Gibson Street base is usually a hub for the homeless, where they could not only find clothing and food, but also pause for a daily conversation and socialise with the volunteers.

But now the team is forced to hand meals through the door, with minimal contact and little time for socialising.

"It feels inhumane," Ms Freitag said. "The clients are great about it and they understand why it's happening, but it just feels horrible.

"Usually we would use that time to check up on them, see how they were doing and if they needed a blanket or some food or anything like that. Our biggest struggle is not being able to have that one-on-one."

The Halo Team is hoping to reconnect with their clients soon. Photo: File image.

The Halo Team is hoping to reconnect with their clients soon. Photo: File image.

The Halo Team eventually hope to establish a canteen-style operation that would see them serve meals through a window and potentially allow for more human interaction with clients.

But in the meantime the homeless are also feeling the sting of a restricted access to community facilities, including public toilets and showers.

The shower blocks at Tuart Avenue remain operational on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but some public toilets like those on the eastern foreshore have been closed to stop the spread of the virus.

The Halo Team is calling on donations of food for those in need - email team@haloteaminc.org.au