How to Help 2013 NSW Fire Victims

October 21st, 2013

2013-nsw-bushfiresIn hard times, the traditional Aussie values of mateship and lending a helping hand will always come to the fore. When people are suffering from natural disasters such as the 2013 New South Wales Fires,  most Australians are motivated to help out wherever they can. The problem though is  working out the best way to help fire victims – without causing more problems, or getting in the way of the relief effort.

A natural first reaction for most of us, is to consider the types of things that fire victims might need, then think about what things they themselves have (and could do without), and then wonder how they should go about getting their stuff to the places they are really needed.

Undoubtedly many of these donated items could be useful, but unfortunately, even though it may initially seem to be a great idea, the donation of  items or goods, is often not a very practical solution.  Unless you are located in or very near to the fire affected areas, the costs associated with receiving, storing, transporting and distributing donated items are very high, and it could end up costing significantly more to pass on donated items than it would to provide new items  purchased in the local community.

NSW bushfires: How you can help

NSW police have released a statement advising community members of the most helpful things they can do to assist with the recovery. Allison Rowlands, NSW Director of Disaster Welfare, has asked people to carefully consider what they give in order to minimise the donation of unwanted goods.

Unless you live in or near affected communities, the best way you can help is very likely going to be to make a financial donation :

When to Offer Items / Services

fire-victims-how-to-helpFire damage has an impact on entire communities, however , many people may not be directly affected, and would LOVE to be able to help, but are not sure how.

HelpOut is an online service aimed directly at people living or working in or near to flood affected  areas who are wanting to help, and also those needing help.  If you are part of a local community, and are living or working in or very near a flood affected area, then with HelpOut, the donation of items, goods or services could become a viable options.

HelpOut allows people to list the types of items or services that they can help out with, in the specific area or community that they are able to assist.

If you need help, or could do with a helping hand, you can also create a Help Wanted listing – which specific what you need, and where you are located.

Note: HelpOut is not able to coordinate or be involved directly with individual offers or requests for Help or assistance, the service simply allows people offering help to get in touch with those needing help  – and let them sort out the details between them.

What types of things could I offer?

There are many many thing that could help out the NSW fire victims – many communities have been devastated and some have lost everything, so pretty much anything which might help them get started on the road back to a normal life could be of benefit.  It’s not only goods and items that are of help though.  offers of a helping hand, a bit of a break, or even a shoulder to cry on can help a lot.  Often very simple things can make a big difference as it reminds the fire victims that they are not alone, people really do care, and that their lives will return to normal even if it takes time.

Outline below are a few suggestions for simple, but practical, hands on thing that you may not have considered, but if you have any other ideas, please feel free to leave a comment below.

  • looking after a pet or caring for livestock
  • offering a home cooked meal
  • washing and drying a load of laundry
  • inviting them around for a DVD and popcorn (a taste of normality)
  • and many more..

Help by Spreading the Word

Even if you live elsewhere in Australia, you can help spread the word about HelpOut – particularly if you know someone or have contacts in those parts of NSW that are being affected by fire.   If you let people within these local communities know about the HelpOut service they may be able to create their own listings.

Also, clearly people who have been directly affected by the fires are likely to have little or no access to the internet.  If you have friends or family who are suffering from the fires, and have some specific needs, you could consider creating a listing on their behalf – outlining what they need a hand with (make sure that you specify their location though – not your own).

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