Service helps bushfire victims to move forward

THERE TO CARE: The friendly Step by Step team are ready to help those coping with the impact of the bushfire season and its ongoing implications and effects.
THERE TO CARE: The friendly Step by Step team are ready to help those coping with the impact of the bushfire season and its ongoing implications and effects.

You may feel very uncertain about the road ahead but that's okay. None of us are sure of what the future may hold.

No-one can say that 2020 has not been a year of profound challenges and changes. As we approach the first anniversary of the bushfires (and floods) it's really important to step up your self-care and the care of your loved ones.

Some people may want to attend community memorials, others will choose to spend time with family and friends.

For others it may be important to spend the day alone.

Gateway Family Services manager Anne Crestani said this important milestone can bring with it painful memories and reminders of what has been lost and what has been changed forever.

"It can also be a time to reflect on the journey travelled so far and the road ahead," Ms Crestani said.

"You may feel very uncertain about the road ahead but that's okay. None of us are sure of what the future may hold.

"This is a time for respite, rest and reflection, reaching out and connecting with each other. It's okay to not feel okay and it's okay to grieve. Tears can be healing. You're not alone and you're not forgotten."

The Step by Step bushfire recovery support service aims "to walk alongside" people affected by the bushfires and floods who are living in the Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Mid-Western regions.

"We can meet you for a chat and a cuppa wherever you feel comfortable," Ms Crestani said.

"We can also help you with disaster recovery grant applications, practical support, recovery updates and link you with your local network of health and community services. Step by Step is here to listen and to walk alongside you.

"There's no blame and there's no shame. We help give your feelings a name. Remember that you are resilient, you are courageous, you have suffered and you've been through so much, but look how far you have come.

"Believe that you can keep moving forward step by step."

Step By Step is one of seven Recovery Support Services jointly funded by the NSW and Australian governments, whose aim is to support the communities most severely impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires.

They can be contacted on 0417 298 832 or via their website: stepbystep@gatewayfamilyservices.org.au

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