Unitywater supports local cafes through COVID-19 while CBD is a ‘ghost town’

9 June, 2020
Author: Charles Hodgson

Unitywater is helping feed the Coast’s homeless while supporting local businesses.

In May, the utility joined forces with Sunshine Coast Council, Integrated Family Youth Services (IFYS), the Department of Housing and other community service organisations to create the Sunshine Coast Community Hub at Kawana Stadium to provide services, hot showers, food and advice to those sleeping rough as a result of COVID-19.

Unitywater is donating 350 meals each week and the flow-on effect for local cafes has been positive.

Nourish Espresso and Catering, based in Maroochydore, is one of the cafes serving up fresh food on behalf of Unitywater.

“Before COVID came along we were a very busy café,” Nourish Owner Joyce Hosking said.

“Once everyone was sent to work from home, it had a massive impact. We went down about 65-70% of our income.”

Ms Hosking said when Unitywater approached them to cater for the Community Hub, she and her husband, Ben, were “ecstatic”.

“We were helping people and giving them nourishing foods in a time when they may not have access to that, and it also helped our business,” she said.

Ben echoed her sentiments.

“It was a ghost town in the Maroochydore business district,” he said.

“The income we’re receiving has afforded us to keep our staff member on. By staying open throughout this crisis, it’s given her a wage – she missed out on the JobKeeper payment by one week.

“I think Unitywater has done a great job helping cafes and small businesses, as well as the homeless – it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Unitywater Executive Manager Customer and Community Katherine Gee said she was proud of the utility’s support.

“We know what it takes to deliver essential services and we’re really pleased to support businesses who are supporting our communities,” she said.

“It’s fantastic that our assistance has helped a range of groups and people in our region. Helping local cafes means we’re helping ease their return to normal and their journey through recovery will hopefully be that little bit easier.”