THE COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for businesses across Gawler, but one café owner is determined to keep supporting those doing it even tougher.
Before the coronavirus crisis hit, Gayle Joyce, owner of Walker Place café Poetic Justice, wanted her business to be about more than just making coffee and cooking breakfasts.
She was keen to offload her unused food to the hungry and aimed to create an inclusive culture for customers of all backgrounds.
However, when social distancing measures were implemented with little notice in late-March, Mrs Joyce suddenly faced a dire time for her businesses, as well as an increased demand for her social services.
“We were starting to struggle,” she said.
“It was very real for me because, even though I had food, the mental health of my kids and I was struggling.
“I’ve got young ones at home, so I really had to look after myself so I could continue looking after my kids and the community.
“We’re here for the community and for ourselves. We love what we do.”
The pandemic forced the closure of Gawler’s social support charities including Vinnies and the Salvation Army, along with their outreach services.
Only UCare Gawler was left to provide emergency food and clothing for those doing it tough as the nights got colder.
Despite her business struggling to stay afloat, Mrs Joyce decided she needed to fill the void left by the enforced closure of local charities.
She started creating support packs for homeless people across the town, which included food, hygiene products and books.
“I don’t need a story, you just need to tell me you need something and you can come and get it,” she said.
“I didn’t understand at first why those services would close and I wasn’t sure who else was doing some kind of survival pack.
“They just look like you’ve got a big meal. I’ve got some tinned supplies in there too as well as shampoo, toilet paper, dishwashing liquid and clothes.
“It was really good to be able to give a whole range of products.”
Mrs Joyce added the café would continue its charitable work, even as more services return to Gawler.
As well as food relief, the café also has a free book trading table and helped disseminate COVID-19 information to locals who did not have access to a computer throughout the pandemic.
Mrs Joyce said Poetic Justice was always meant to be about more than a business.
“When we first came to South Australia about seven years ago, I’d take the kids out for dinner and I felt there was nowhere people could go with the whole family which was inclusive, warm and inviting,” she said.
“I wanted to make sure it was accessible for all people from all walks of life.
“I’ve seen with my own two eyes, the discrimination when a homeless person tries to come in. Everybody will look, not in my place, but they would look and the discrimination would be right there in their face.
“They’re just a human whose circumstances went bad for a certain period of time.”