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You can count on Taryn

You can count on Taryn

You can count on Taryn

30 September 2020

Since March, Captain Taryn Singer has counted more than 1.2 million records of COVID-related data for The Salvation Army.

By Jessica Morris

Since COVID-19 hit, our lives have been full of numbers, stages and statistics – and who can forget that delightful curve that we pray will flatten?

While most of us have struggled to count the six feet required to social distance, Captain Taryn Singer has spent the past six months processing The Salvation Army’s 1.2 million records of COVID-related data. And that’s just the beginning of her work as a project officer for THQ Mission Portfolio to support department heads and general managers.

“I was asked by Major Jenny Begent [Head of Social Mission] in March how the states were tracking with their COVID case numbers and how can we use the data in SAMIS [Service And Mission Information System] to track changes in service delivery and client demographics due to COVID,” said Taryn.

“These two questions have shaped my work for the past six months. And the reports that I have been producing has allowed the Army to adapt service delivery, apply for tenders based on data and to make representation to external agencies.”

Every day, Taryn collects state and national data about COVID rates, trends and current restrictions. This information, along with data of Salvation Army service delivery, has shaped how the Army supports people during the pandemic.

Between April and July, Taryn found that family and domestic violence sessions of care were up by over 1000, and homelessness sessions were up by more than 5000 across the country. In addition, The Salvation Army distributed more than $6.24 million in emergency relief to more than 40,000 people across Australia. In Victoria, $2 million was distributed for emergency housing accommodation. Her data highlighted the way that the need for support is changing and gave departments the ability to find new ways of working to support clients.

“The data was able to show how quickly the Army changed to COVID-safe ways of working, like Doorways interviews moving from face-to-face appointments to phone assessment in late March when COVID restrictions started,” said Taryn.

A global pandemic made Taryn’s appointment more complex than she ever expected – but it’s one she is uniquely gifted to take on, considering she was an operations analyst before she became an officer. It means she has been able to adapt to, and create, a new ‘normal’ so Salvation Army officers, staff, clients and volunteers could adjust to a COVID-safe service delivery model.

“I was most surprised to be able to use COVID case-number data to advise social mission managers around likely moves on restriction levels, so they were already planning how they were going to operate when changes were announced,” said Taryn.

In a year when it is essential that we celebrate our front-line workers, let’s remember the people behind the scenes who make their work possible too. Thanks for being a numbers whizz Taryn; we couldn’t be an Army that ‘lives, loves and fights’ without your help!

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