New initiative urges action, not questions, when supporting loved ones in crisis


In times of crisis, we often hear the phrase ‘Let me know if you need anything.’ Although the helpful intention is there, this phrase is non-committal and places the responsibility of asking for help on the individual in need and can become a barrier to receiving help.

To make starting difficult conversations easier, Gather My Crew is launching a new initiative for people to give and receive help for the things that count.

Research shows that over the past 15 years, more Australians have experienced growing distress, with over half (51.6%) of Australians suffering.

Sadly, issues that cause distress in communities happen with unfortunate frequency, with each of these events sparking a ripple effect across the lives of both the individual and their loved ones. In fact, more than one million Australians currently live with cancer creating emotional and physical strain,[2] 26,000 babies are born pre-term placing insurmountable pressures on families, more than 49,000 marriages end in divorce, forcing individuals to pick up pieces of their lives – and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

This comes as no surprise as distress comes from a broad spectrum of causes and various aspects of life. However, it is a well-known fact that community and support provide a lifeline to people in times of hardship, with research revealing those with stronger social bonds have a 50% increased likelihood of survival than those who have fewer social connections.

The urgent need for a helping hand and connecting communities is what led Dr Susan Palmer, Psychologist, Founder and Clinical Lead of Gather My Crew, to launch the not-for-profit platform.

“As humans, we are inherently social beings. We thrive on community support, especially during times of crisis. During periods of heightened stress, cognitive overload can impair our communication and decision-making, making it harder to deal with challenging situations and think logically during this time.

“However, research consistently shows that individuals with robust social support systems fare better in times of crisis, experiencing lower levels of stress and greater resilience. By proactively gathering our crew and fostering interconnectedness within our communities, we not only help our own well-being but also create a foundation of solidarity and compassion.

“The issue with saying ‘Let me know how I can help’ is that it requires the person struggling to go back and ask for specific things which can sadly work as a barrier to receiving the help they actual need. On the flip side, people are ready to give help and have the best intentions but don’t know how to go about it or what to offer,” Dr Palmer says.

Over two-thirds of Gather My Crew’s support crews, who are loved ones or everyday individuals in the community, are set up to support Aussies that need help with a range of things, including support with medical appointments (32%), looking after children (27%) or grocery shopping (16%).

Gather My Crew Partner Engagement & Community Educator Lauren Smith understands firsthand the impact of tough times. Having been her husband’s full-time carer through a 10-month-long cancer battle shortly after their marriage, they navigated the daunting journey without being able to coordinate help in a meaningful way.

“We had a beautiful community around us who wanted to help, and we needed help, but we really struggled to ask for it at the right time and coordinate help that was meaningful to our unique circumstances. There was a specific time when I desperately needed washing powder on a weekday and I remember wishing for a tool that would allow me to ask for help in a simplified way. If only we had known about Gather My Crew.” Smith says.

“Gather My Crew provides practical, measurable and meaningful help during tough times – we are the place to turn to when a friend has cancer, there’s been a sudden death in the family, or someone’s loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, giving you the tools to help them with the things they need most.”

“The breath of help that we see on the platform varies drastically from making someone dinner once a week to arranging regular transport to medical appointments. There really are no limitations to what help can be given,” Dr Palmer concludes.

Instead of relying on individuals to vocalise their needs, Gather My Crew’s new initiative #ActDon’tAsk encourages proactive engagement and practical assistance for those who feel like a burden, for those who don’t even know where to start and for those in their lowest moments looking for a guiding hand.

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