Thank You Thursday: Community Connections

A recent report by VicHealth suggested that there is a new public health challenge emerging and it might not be what most of you would think. It’s loneliness.

According to VicHealth “loneliness is proving to be more than just part of the human condition. New research shows it’s a serious public health problem, for young people as much as the elderly“.

While it may not be a surprise that loneliness can have links to depression, global studies are showing links but the idea that loneliness can be associated to poorer cardiovascular health, faster cognitive decline rates and possibly even dementia.

There’s a stigma to loneliness too, but a new Australian non-profit is here to change that.

Friends for Good raises awareness of loneliness as a significant issue in the community and addresses gaps in services to foster a greater sense of connection and wellbeing for individuals and communities. They are doing research, educating the community and providing services targeted to socially isolated people.

They are currently conducting an online survey, called Time We Talked, where from almost 600 respondents they are learning that over a quarter are currently feeling lonely. Earlier this year Friends for Good launched Friendline, a support line for anyone who is suffering from or affected by loneliness.

And in November, the organisation will host the first national conference on loneliness in Australia. The Australian Loneliness Dialogue aims to bring people together to understand loneliness in our communities, raise the profile of this issue and to develop recommendations for actions required by government, policy makers and practitioners.

This Thank You Thursday we give a shout out to the team and Friends for Good. In a short amount of time this small non-profit already seems to be punching above its weight. We look forward to seeing how they foster connections and build community further as they grow.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Thank You Thursday: Bales of Love

Here in Australia we live in the second-driest continent in the world with average rainfall less than 600mm every year on most parts of the land.  Across the country, April to June this year has been the fourth-driest in over 100 years. Drought is definitely upon us.

For many Australians this concept of drought is an abstract thing, but for the farming families living on the land it is their every day reality.  Diminished crops, dwindling feed for livestock, water levels in creeks and dams dry up and eroding land is damaged.

For many farmers, even some in their 60s, this is the worst drought they’ve experienced in their lifetime. And recent rainfalls across parts of NSW have not really made much difference. It will take much longer, and much more rain, to see improvements in agriculture, let alone end the drought.

Two small non-profits have been working to help Aussie farmers before the drought, but are really stepping things up and advocating for them through this really tough time.

Rural Aid was founded in 2015 by Charles and Tracey Alder to provide a holistic support program to rural Australia after hearing about how some farmers were having to shoot their own cattle and being forced off the land. One of their main initiatives is Buy a Bale and helps get bales of hay to farmers in need. A trailer of hay can cost up to $2,500 and sometimes up to $5,000 in transportation costs which can often mean the difference between cattle surviving or not.

Friends Natasha Johnston and Nicki Blackwell began Drought Angels just over four years ago when they heard stories of farmers – who were working hard to feed Aussie families – were struggling to put food on their own tables. Among the support that they provide, they ensure a personalised approach with the provision of food hampers, care packs, prepaid visas, local store vouchers, stock feed and hay.

Rural Day Off is one of their initiatives that invites farming families to a day off their properties. They have a whole day to socialise, feel valued and reminded they are not alone. Mental and emotional wellbeing are an important part of healthy farming communities and the Rural Day Off helps provide some time out in a relaxed and friendly environment.

So this Thank You Thursday, we say the heartiest thanks to the founders of these two wonderful organisations and the work that they each do in supporting farmers.  But perhaps the biggest thanks should go to the Aussie farmers who work so hard, day in, day out, for their entire lives to grow the crops and breed the livestock that help feed our country.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

 

Thank You Thursday: Less Plastics, More Boomerangs

On the weekend, Western Australia and Queensland introduced state-wide bans on thin plastic bags, joining Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania and South Australia – who was first to ban the bags almost 10 years ago now. We’re hoping Victoria and NSW will follow suit soon as some of the biggest retailers also introduced national bans. Billions of single-use plastic bags are given out at major retailers across the country and millions end up in landfill, or damaging the environment in other ways.

There’s been one little non-profit that has been working to reduce plastic bags for a few years, and with these recent bans, things are really heating up for them. Boomerang Bags works to reduce the use of plastic bags by engaging local communities in the making of Boomerang Bags – community made, using recycled materials.

Businesses and shops in towns and suburbs across the country have been introducing Boomerang Bags in the hundreds. The idea is then that customers treat them like boomerangs, using them to take their purchases home and then bringing bags back to the store another day.

Boomerang Bags began on the Gold Coast in 2013. Two locals, Tania Potts and Jordyn de Boer, wanted to do something about reducing the number of plastic bags in their local beachside community of Burleigh Heads. Today there are hundreds of Boomerang Bag communities across the country and has expanded internationally now as well.

Boomerang Bags are a simple, yet meaningful way to connect with others in just four easy steps…

  1. Connect to a bag community or start your own
  2. Collect materials – scrap materials, old quilts, table cloths are great
  3. Make the bags – get together with your group and get sewing
  4. Put them to use again, and again, and again!

Have a watch of this short video…

 

While plastic bags are not the only problematic materials creating havoc with our environment – and most notably sea life such as fish, whales and turtles – reducing the usage of plastic bags is a great first step as a country we can do in reducing our waste. And it’s been so fabulous to have the team at Boomerang Bags – and the many communities of volunteers around the country – making headway with this journey.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Fish Community Solutions Hummingbird House

Thank You Thursday: A Home for Hummingbirds

Supporting a loved one with a life-limiting condition or through palliative care is hard on any family. It’s emotional and physically draining. But what about when the person with the life-limiting condition is a child? Your child. And in addition to supporting your one sick child, you must still love and care for your other children. And what about your job; what happens to that? How will this affect your financial situation? Sadly this is the reality for about 3,700 families across Queensland today.

And at the heart of one of those families, are foster parents, Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam, who about ten years ago fostered a little girl with a life-limiting condition. Among transplants and surgeries, they provided love and care, but the stress, emotional and financial, was great. They tried to reach out for support, perhaps some respite at a hospice, but no such place existed in Queensland.

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That’s when Paul and Gabrielle made the decision to do something to change that. And that decision would be the conception of Hummingbird House – Queensland’s first children’s hospice and only the third in Australia.

Gabrielle recently shared their story at a TEDx talk which you can view here:

Hummingbird House has been created to provide world-class respite and end of life care for children with a life-limiting condition and their families, and to help families discover moments and create memories to last a lifetime.

Despite its small size and fragility a hummingbird can be radiant and bright. Many cultures believe the hummingbird is a symbol of love, the lightness of being and the presence of joy. In many ways the hummingbird is representative of the children who will seek respite at this new facility with their families.

Hummingbird House will offer tailored stays for children with life-limiting conditions, their parents and their siblings. It will be a holistic approach for the whole family.

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Later this month, on Saturday 21st in fact, Hummingbird House will be having its housewarming gala as it gets ready to open its doors to the first families that will call it home. And this Thursday we say thanks to Paul and Gabrielle for their vision and leadership in making this possible.

 

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Thank You Thursday: Money for Nothing

Last week I came across an initiative that wasn’t only about raising funds for a good cause and creating a better world, but doing something for yourself and creating a better you. And I believe the ‘better you’ that is created will in turn be a healthier and happier member of the community. It is Mindful in May and it is a project developed by Dr Elise Bialylew.

Mindful in May is a one month meditation campaign for both beginner and more experienced meditators that benefits you and raises money to bring clean drinking water to people living in developing countries.

Create a clear mind for you and clean water for others.

Developed as a way of creating support for those who felt time poor but wanted to create a habit of mindfulness in their lives, Mindful in May asks participants to make a donation of at least $20 to go toward bringing clean water to 2 two villages sustaining more than 500 people.

Mindfulness is about paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non judgmentally. Throughout the month participants will be supported in learning new skills to enhance their internal resources, whilst simultaneously contributing to bringing external resources to those living in poverty. They will have access to weekly audio meditation downloads, instruction and daily motivation.

I know I’ve talked about the issue of clean water around the world on this blog before, but just to recap; every 20 seconds a child dies from a disease caused by lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Mindful in May is an initiative raising funds for Charity: Water and hoping to do something about such statistics.

Basically, the project enables you to do good by doing nothing. 10 minutes of nothing every day for 31 days. I’m getting in on this one. A bit of mindfulness is what this Fish Chick needs right now, and clean water is obviously a necessity for everyone, fish and human alike.

So this Thank You Thursday we acknowledge the work of Dr Elise Bialylew and her efforts to make a difference in the world with Mindful in May.

See you in the (fresh) pond,

The Fish Chick

Thank You Thursday: Making a Splash

March 22nd, is World Water Day.

World Water Day is a day designed by the United Nations to shine a spotlight on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

There are a number of organisation’s around the globe that now focus their attention on promoting the need for fresh clean drinking water in developing countries and today I’d like to highlight one of the them.

Thankyou Water is an Australian based non-profit social enterprise set up in 2008 by a group of young idealistic friends when they learned that Australians spend almost $600 billion on bottled water. Yes, $600 BILLION on bottled water in a country where fresh, clean drinking water is basically available at the turn of a tap. And at the same time 900 million people around the globe do not have access to ANY clean drinking water.

Thankyou Water is a new brand of bottled water using 100% of its profits to fund water projects in developing nations across Africa and South East Asia. Their concept is simple: One bottle of Thankyou Water is enough to provide clean drinking water to one person for at least one month in the developing world.

The founders of Thankyou Water wanted to be able to give ordinary Australians the opportunity to make a difference in the world by doing something they already do a lot of… buying bottled water. One of their Co Founders, Dan Flynn, says, “Thankyou Water exists to bring a collision between two extremes, the world water crisis and Australia’s $600 million bottled water industry.”

So far, Thankyou Water have had at least eight of their water projects fully funded through their social enterprise. Their water projects usually include the ‘hardware’ (the physical materials and equipment) and the ‘software’ (the health and hygiene education, skills training, labour and the monitoring and evaluation) aspects of the project, to make sure that the impact is sustainable in the communities in which they work.

So this Thank You Thursday, the Fish Chick shows gratitude to the team at Thankyou Water.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

P.S Perhaps next time you’re out looking to purchase a bottle of water you’ll look twice for this bottle.