An image of groceries in a shopping bag, with a halo over the top, referencing the Shopping Angels.

Shopping Angels deliver in time of need

UQ alumnus Tara O'Kane is supposed to be starting her new career in London – but the coronavirus had other plans. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, O'Kane has decided to use this time to help others by co-founding a grocery-delivery service.

An image of Shopping Angels co-founders Julian Corvin and Tara O'Kane delivering groceries to Cherese, who is self-isolating on the Gold Coast.

Shopping Angels co-founders Julian Corvin (left) and Tara O'Kane (right) deliver groceries to Cherese, who is self-isolating on the Gold Coast.

Shopping Angels co-founder Tara O'Kane delivers groceries on the Gold Coast.

These are the Shopping Angels. A group of volunteers working to deliver food and groceries to the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Co-founder Tara O’Kane (Bachelor of Engineering / Bachelor of Commerce ’20) was just two weeks into a three-month-long trip from Brisbane to London to start a new role with KPMG when news of the COVID-19 outbreak hit.

As a pandemic was declared and national borders around the world began to close, O’Kane decided it was time to return to Brisbane.

Upon returning, she was forced into self-isolation, unable to do the day-to-day tasks many of us, before now, had taken for granted.

It was then she saw an advertisement for Shopping Angels in the US.

Hearing stories of those who were able to help at-risk populations inspired O'Kane to find out if she could bring a similar service to Australia.

“I reached out to Shopping Angels in the US and asked whether they were interested in expanding to Australia. As it turns out, [co-founder] Julian Corvin had asked the same thing, so they connected us,” O'Kane said.

To get started, O’Kane – with the help of Corvin – set up a Facebook page to spread awareness of the service.

The duo had a number of virtual meetings with the Shopping Angels team in the US, which helped them understand how to best match clients with volunteers.

This due diligence is paying off, with Shopping Angels currently boasting a 100 per cent success rate matching clients with ‘angels’ in Australia.

An image of a Facebook post by Shopping Angels, celebrating a 100 per cent success rate with matching clients with ‘angels’ in Australia.

Shopping Angels has since received significant news coverage around the country, with more and more volunteers signing up to the service each day.

“It's definitely keeping us busy,” O’Kane said.

O’Kane’s start date for her new role with KPMG in London has now been pushed back to September this year.

She is grateful to have the downtime to work on Shopping Angels, which she said was so much more than just a grocery delivery service.

“One of the things that has really stood out to me is just how grateful people are to have others offer to assist them.”

“Most of our clients are elderly and have a variety of health conditions. Because of this they aren’t able to leave the house, so they aren’t getting the social interaction they normally would.

“They’re not only grateful for our grocery service, but they’re also grateful to have someone to chat to on the phone.

“For the volunteer, it might just be an hour out of their day. But for some of these clients, it makes the world of difference.”

Visit the Shopping Angels Facebook page for more information about their services.

Image: Cleardesign1/Getty Images

An image of groceries in a shopping bag on bench.

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