AUTHOR: Dr Susan Palmer
Sometimes, but not often, I am contacted by people who need help but do not feel they have anyone to ask.
They may be new to an area, socially isolated or estranged from their family.
I always find these situations terribly sad – not because I believe that there actually is no one that is there to help (I have seen too many acts of extraordinary kindness, generosity and community since the launch of Gather My Crew to truly believe this).
I am sad that we have got to the point where some people live so isolated from others that they don’t recognise that their community is actually all around them.
They may not always be easy to see and we may actually need to do some work to find them – and, in some cases, it might be necessary to go out and hunt them down…
But they ARE there.
Humans thrive on community and we have a natural propensity to want to connect and support others – particularly if we can see them struggling. If the terrible bushfires over summer have taught us anything – surely it has taught us that.
The tricky thing about needing help when feeling isolated is that it seems impossible to find the energy or strength to do anything about it. It is challenging to put yourself out there when feeling vulnerable and alone. We totally get that.
We also get that it can be hard to know where to start… so here are a few ideas…
Your street. Community can be based on proximity and the people in your street represent a little community all on their own. Even if you have not had much to do with your neighbours, you will often find they are more than willing to help out with some of the more practical tasks of running a house. Think taking the bins out, collecting the mail, mowing the lawn and walking the dog. These are small tasks that can be integrated into their own routines – but they can have a big impact on feeling like you are not having to cope all alone.
Local council. Local councils are a great place to find groups that may be running that will be full of ‘like minded’ people. You can have a look at what is happening in your local area and get involved. While this is not necessarily the best option to find people at the time of the crisis… it is a great place to start if you are feeling like you dont have any community and want make some changes.
Faith groups. These groups often consist of people who are focused on looking out for vulnerable people and finding ways to meet their needs – and they often have groups of volunteers set up to do just that. Have a think about the faith groups that are around you and, if you feel an affinity with any of them, perhaps now is the time to reach out and connect.
Your workplace. People often hide how serious their issues are from their workplace. This can be a serious missed opportunity. More and more businesses are becoming aware that they have a moral obligation to look after their staff beyond the work environment. Consider reaching out to people at work to let them know what is going on and ask for the help you need. And, don’t forget, you spend an awful lot of time with work colleagues so – whether you know it or not – they are actually one of the communities you belong to.
Schools. Are you connected to a school? Schools are ready made communities. These hubs of connection and community are always gathering around those in need. Many schools even have ‘pastoral care coordinators’ or members of the parent council who specifically coordinate care for families going through difficult times.
Facebook groups. Facebook has become an amazing ‘community builder’ in recent years with groups of people who live in the same area coming together to create meaningful connections and look after each other. You can search for your local ‘Good Karma Network’ or ‘Neighbourhood Group’, get involved and even ask directly for help. We know of situations where Good Karma Networks have created Gather My Crew accounts to transport someone to cancer treatment for 6 weeks. Incredible! ❤