Illawarra residents can help provide face masks to vulnerable people in the community, by purchasing some for themselves.
For the next two weeks, St John Ambulance NSW is running its 'Buy One, Give One' campaign, which will see a box of face masks donated to community organisations for every box of masks sold, to distribute to people in need.
Cy Goodair, from St John Ambulance in Wollongong, said the COVID-19 pandemic had changed life for everyone, but especially for the people who did not have the means to protect themselves against the virus.
People experiencing homelessness do not have places to isolate in, and many people do not have the money to purchase protective items, such as masks.
"Australia's homeless are some of the most at-risk during the pandemic, and yet are so often overlooked," St John Ambulance NSW chief executive officer Sarah Lance said.
The campaign was launched after the NSW government mandated the use of face masks in certain settings in Wollongong, Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast.
These rules can restrict those who cannot afford to purchase masks from entering some shops, public transport, and other public spaces.
"Providing those experiencing homelessness with face masks will not only help to minimise their chance of contracting COVID-19 and other illnesses, but also empower them with more freedom to move around safely," Ms Lance said.
While mask rules have recently relaxed, they are still required on public transport and at public transport waiting areas, in places of worship, and in other settings, such as weddings and funerals.
The campaign runs until February 15, and a box of masks can be purchased from the St John Ambulance NSW website or by calling 1300 ST JOHN.
"I think the community will get well behind it and support this initiative," Mr Goodair said.
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