Written by Susan Palmer...
I have spent almost 20 years as a psychologist supporting people and families going through crisis.
My job involves helping people find a way through the chaos and confusion. Supporting them to put one foot in front of the other until they can find their way out of the darkness.
Regardless of the issues they face, our discussions always include talking about ways to engage with their support network to make sure they got the practical help they needed to get through the months ahead.
I have seen over and over again that there are often friends, family, neighbours and colleagues standing by ready and able to to help… but who don’t know how to offer help or what help is most needed…
And so they cook.
As the awful news begins to spread through the community, the lasagna starts to pile up at the front door. Each meal is made with love and care by someone wanting to help – but meals are not always the most practical way to support a family in need.
As a psychologist, I would talk to families about turning these ‘lasagna-shaped parcels of love’ into the help they really needed.
When a friend asked “What can I do to help?” or said “Shout out if you need anything?” – I would encourage them to respond immediately and specifically with what they most needed at that time. I would suggest they create a list of all of the practical help they needed so they would have an answer ready to go – or even even turn this list into a roster that would keep all of these offers of help in one place…
Then, in 2016, a friend of mine was in trouble. She was due to have back surgery and would be out of action for six weeks. She was from overseas, had no family in Australia, was a mum to five-year-old twins, and her husband had used up all of his leave in the lead-up to her surgery. I decided to do for her what I had always encouraged others to do – to create a list of all of the things she needed help with and turn it into a roster so that friends could help out.
After emailing the class list at school to ask who was able to help, then talking to my friend about the practical help she needed in order to stay afloat, I found myself with 30 helpers and a list of chores as long as my arm: school drop-offs and pick-ups, transport to and from hospital, laundry, house cleaning, after-school care, meals, grocery shopping and so on.
So now what?
It was through this personal experience that I realised how hard it is to actually coordinate specific and practical help when going through a crisis. Text messages, ring-arounds, spreadsheets and late-night phone calls are difficult, time consuming and often just too much for someone to manage when they are already in the turmoil of a serious life crisis.
I wanted to help my friend but didn’t have the free time to coordinate all the assistance she needed with all the wonderful people who had offered to help.
It was a ‘lightbulb’ moment when I realised that something I had been encouraging people to do for years in my clinical practice – was virtually impossible to achieve in my private life.
And that’s how Gather My Crew began…
After talking with my colleagues around Australia looking for an easy, ‘online help roster’ that would make this level of coordination a breeze… I was shocked to discover that nothing like it existed and that none of my psychologist friends were able to recommend such a tool to any of their patients. This was when the hustle really began – and 12 months later Gather My Crew was launched.
Created based on the expertise of people who had ‘been there, done that’, as well as the clinicians who supported them, Gather My Crew exists to make sure people going through a crisis get the right kind of help from all their well-meaning friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – without all of the stress that usually comes with coordinating help via traditional means.
Gather My Crew is a registered charity. We provide our easy to use, online help roster to the public for FREE.
I encourage anyone who needs help, wants to provide help, or wants to build a community of support in their neighbourhood to create an account today. After all – we will all need help at sometime in our lives…
You can find out more at www.gathermycrew.org.au