Onkaparinga at Home: Lending a hand
20 April 2020

Onkaparinga at Home: Lending a hand

Around this time last year, McLaren Vale’s Never Never Distilling Co. was celebrating its title of World’s Best Classic Gin in London.

Today, its owners are ramping up production of hand sanitiser to assist local medical practices and other high-needs organisations in the fight against a global pandemic.

It’s a stark comparison of how the world has rapidly changed in the face of COVID-19, and an example of how City of Onkaparinga businesses are adapting to help their communities.

Other local businesses pivoting their operations to lend a hand include a popular co-working space harnessing its café to feed the vulnerable, and a café becoming a makeshift general store to offer essentials that can’t be found on supermarket shelves.

“We never would have anticipated making hand sanitiser,” says Never Never Managing Director George Georgiadis.

“Its availability has plummeted across the country and we’re seeing everyone step up, from big guys like Four Pillars, to smaller businesses like us.

“We were getting asked a hundred times a week if we were planning on making some [but] it wasn’t until doctors started messaging that we realised the problem was a serious one that deserves attention.”

Distilleries such as Never Never Distilling Co. are well-placed to produce the essential healthcare product, largely due to their access to sanitiser’s key ingredient, ethanol.

While the Never Never team are ensuring there’s ample availability of their award-winning gin on hand, they’ve shifted production to include two varieties of locally produced and distributed hand sanitiser.

The first is an 80 per cent variant that will be delivered to local medical practices, aged care providers and hospitals. This version is made to the strict specifications outlined by the World Health Organisation and as such, allows it to be used in hospitals.

Due to its required high alcohol percentage, this product is unable to be shipped, so it will be hand-delivered to practises in need across Adelaide and McLaren Vale.

“We’re focusing the majority of our efforts on supplying health care professionals around the city who have reached out to us,” says Georgiadis.

“We’re planning on supplying these practices with bulk sanitiser in 15-litre returnable plastic dangerous goods containers, which we’ll collect after use.”

Local General Practitioner, Dr Cathryn Mills was one of the first to reach out.

“The COVID-19 crisis is terrifying for everybody, but even more terrifying when you are

a front-line health worker with a rapidly dwindling supply of hand sanitiser,” says Dr Mills.

“We’re extremely grateful to have access to hand sanitiser now through Never Never Distilling Co,” she says.

Never Never has also developed a second domestic product at 68% alcohol in limited quantity that is designed for home use and contains some of the aromas from its classic gin style.

“Our gin business has been significantly impacted by the closures of bars and pubs, and our five-week-old distillery door had to close, so proceeds from these sales will go towards keeping our amazing team employed,” says Georgiadis.

“We can’t wait until the need to make sanitiser disappears completely – that will be a day worth celebrating,” he says.

Less than two kilometres down the road from the Never Never distillery, another McLaren Vale business has transformed part of its operations to help those in need.

Co-working, hotdesking and café hub, Meeting Place MV, closed its café to diners in March to funnel its energy into catering for the vulnerable in self-isolation.

Owner Mark Potter, armed with two new benchtop ovens, is now pumping out about 200 meals a week to people with disabilities and vulnerable families in the region through its NDIS partner, Legacy Lifestyle Supports.

He’s also enlisted the help of friends and neighbouring cafes, wineries and businesses to offer meal hampers, grocery boxes and mixed wine cases, available via Meeting Place.

The efforts echo those of other businesses and organisations across the city – such as City of Onkaparinga’s positive ageing centres, Wakefield and Elizabeth House – that are making sure vulnerable people can safely access affordable and nutritious meals.

At Port Noarlunga, one café – The Flour Store on Saltfleet Street – has even transformed into a makeshift general store, selling staples such as flour, pasta, rice, toilet paper and food and wine from local businesses, to help residents that were facing empty supermarket shelves.

When times get tough, it’s good to know City of Onkaparinga residents are there to help. Do you know any local heroes helping their community? Leave a comment on our Facebook post.

This is part three of a series of articles titled Onkaparinga at Home, where we shine a light on how our communities are dealing with COVID-19.

To see what council services are currently affected by COVID-19, visit our community information page. For the latest information on COVID-19 in South Australia, please visit the coronavirus dashboardSA Health website or call the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787.

Lending a hand (sanitiser)

Scenes from the Never Never distillery.

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