Meet The Woman Making It Easier To Ask For Help



Tell us about the moment that changed everything…

I’m a psychologist by training and I’ve spent the past couple of decades working predominantly with people with cancer, along with those affected by spinal injury, disability and other really difficult health situations. And I would always tell people, when they’re going through something like that, to make sure they engage their family and friends, and ask for help, because you can really only go through some of life’s most awful events if you’ve got support around you. I’d been saying this for years. And then, one of the mums [at my kids’ school] was about to have back surgery and she had five-year-old twins, and a Fly-In-Fly-Out [FIFO] husband...

Tell us about the moment that changed everything…

[continued] I said the classic thing, ‘Tell me what you need’, and she just burst into tears and said she didn’t have anyone to pick the kids up from school on the day of the surgery. She was so overwhelmed. So, I jumped into action and messaged the class list, and we had 30 people who were ready to help. I created a spreadsheet and people had some availability, but they’d pull out or they couldn’t do this or that… and it became apparent very quickly that all the things I’d been suggesting to patients were quite impossible in real life.

I started calling colleagues and asking what [programs] they recommended, and they all said, ‘We don’t have any, but if you build it, we’ll use it.’ Then I went on maternity leave and thought, ‘What a great way to spend my maternity leave!’ I thought I’d give myself 12 months and if I could pull it together on maternity leave, I’d keep going. I reached out to people I knew and had the app developed pro bono. Then, when we built it, we received funding from the Lord Mayor’s charitable foundation [in Melbourne].

I’ve always wanted to make a change. I’ve spent my career trying to make a change and do things differently. So maybe it’s not surprising. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve done. I work extremely hard; it’s certainly a passion project. There are times when it’s just overwhelming and exhausting. And always, at moments when I’m at my lowest, a story drops into my inbox from someone [who has used the app] and just wants to say thank you. And that is honestly the reason I keep going.

If there’s one thing you wish people understood about what it’s like to go through a crisis, what would it be?

I would tell people to stop saying, ‘Let me know if I can help’. Because for the people we talk to it’s the worst thing you can say. It completely shuts them down. They are in a world of pain, they are often so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to begin. When people are going through something difficult, it’s really important that we don’t add the burden of expecting them to know and come to you [with suggestions of how to help].

Meet The Women Making Thousands From Their Wardrobes



Read the full interview and find out more about Gather My Crew at PRIMER.


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