THE COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to the many ways we express love and affection; dinner with friends, visiting grandparents, weddings.
But perhaps the most difficult sacrifice is the simplest of all; a hug from a loved one.
SLAK (Spreading Loving Acts of Kindness) Flowers’ new Hug Hampers range will allow you to do the next best thing.
The selection of nine specially themed hampers can be sent as gifts for a celebration or just to show someone you care.
You will not just be spreading kindness to your friends and family, but also supporting SLAK Flowers in their mission to break the cycle of homelessness.
SLAK Flowers founder and managing director Simla Sooboodoo said “tackling the issue of homelessness within Australia is at the core of what we do.”
Ms Sooboodoo was dismayed to learn there are no government initiatives encouraging businesses to employ people experiencing homelessness.
“When you hire someone with a disability for example companies get a rebate for that,” she said.
“There’s no rebate, there’s no grant for people encouraging employers to hire people experiencing homelessness.
“Why is that, because they come with a big gap in their resume.”
Ms Sooboodoo has taken it upon herself to provide employment opportunities to women experiencing homelessness.
The women work alongside professional florists to create beautiful floral designs, with opportunities for training and development.
“SLAK is about the new social revolution that empowers disadvantaged women,” she said.
“We want to advocate on their behalf to drive social change, to improve their livelihoods.
“As a leader, our responsibility is to ignite possibilities for others. “If you’re going to shut out someone’s opportunity, you’re not being a leader.”
Jane,* a proud team member at SLAK Flowers, has experienced homelessness several times throughout her life.
Her childhood was rough, with an absent mother she sacrificed a lot to raise her brother.
“I’ve had a lot of stuff that has knocked me down,” she said
“I’ve never had a place to call home, so I’ve had to fight every day of my life.”
SLAK Flowers came into Jane’s life after she built up the courage to leave an abusive relationship and take herself to a homeless shelter.
From there, she was recruited by Ms Sooboodoo and hasn’t looked back.
“I finally feel like I’m getting my life back on track,” Jane said.
“It makes me happy and it gives me a purpose and I feel like I’m getting away from all that bad stuff.
“To be honest, it’s given me a family.”
SLAK Flowers has opened up so many possibilities to women like Jane without judging them on their past but instead helping them towards a brighter future.
“Our ‘Hug Hampers’ are developed by our team made up of brave women who have experienced homelessness, who work hard every day to bring smiles to the faces of our customers,” Ms Sooboodoo said.
*Name has been changed to protect her privacy
Jessica Roberts is a Masters of Journalism and International Relations student at Monash University. She is interested in advocating for women’s empowerment, amplifying the voices of marginalised communities and creating a society more inclusive and welcoming of minority groups. Jessica is passionate about writing stories that help make a difference.