Local Communities across Australia can now access a free online program, developed to ensure that social distancing does not become social isolation during the health crisis created by coronavirus. And a Mosman ‘Street Crew’ has formed already, showing impressive community spirit!

Psychologist Dr Susan Palmer started Gather My Crew in 2016 when a friend required back surgery and would be out of action for six weeks. With no family living nearby and young twins, everyone wanted to help. But Susan realised how hard it is to coordinate specific and practical help when going through a crisis.

Twelve months later, the ‘online help roster’ and communication tool that is now Gather My Crew was launched. Created based on the expertise of people who had ‘been there, done that’, as well as the clinicians who supported them, Gather My Crew exists to make sure people going through a crisis get the right kind of help from all their well-meaning friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – without all of the stress that usually comes with coordinating help via traditional means.

With the rapid acceleration of the Covid-19 health crisis across Australia, there has never been a more apt time for this tool. ‘Street Crews’ are a new initiative, and provide a quick, easy and sustainable way for groups of neighbours to coordinate their support for each other. They provide a place to chat, to offer and organise help and to create a sense of belonging – all in a safe on-line environment.

Dr Palmer explains that the current public health crisis has brought out the best in many people who wanted to help those who were vulnerable in their community.

“Our experience running Gather My Crew is that people find it difficult to ask for help, offer help, co-ordinate needs and responses and sustain it over a long period of time.

“A ‘Street Crew’ provides the solution. They are organised and connected communities of
neighbours looking out for each other. They can quickly identify who needs additional help and when and make sure no-one is left to cope alone during these difficult times.
‘Street Crews’ only require one person in a community to take the initiative and lead the way to bring their community together.”

Mosman local Carolyn McKay saw a post on Mosman Living about Gather My Crew, and was inspired to start her own Street Crew in Holt Avenue.

“Feeling so helpless listening to the news of the tragedy in our world right now. I saw Liz Migliorini’s post in Mosman Living about Gather My Crew and was inspired. So I ran. I ran from dropping my son at school last Friday, back home to do up the flyers; ran to Officeworks to get the photocopied and back home. Ran around to put flyers in every house/unit letterbox.”

The flyer Carolyn distributed to neighbours.

And the experience for Carolyn and her Holt Avenue neighbours has been transformative. Nearly everyone has been enthusiastic about taking part, and this small community is getting to know each other – many for the first time. As Carolyn point out, “I’ve been living here for more than eight years, and I’m ashamed to say that of the 25 families who have joined the Street Crew, I only knew a couple.”

In these early days since forming, the crew have been figuring out how to post tasks on the portal, and dropping notes in each other’s letterboxes. Carolyn’s son now has a new pen pal across the road. Dr Palmer says that there were many ways a ‘Street Crew’ could support each other including:
– Shopping for fresh food
– Dropping off bread and milk
– Collecting deliveries or parcels from the post office
– Collecting medications
– Walking the dog
– Organising regular skype calls or phone ‘check ins’ to provide social connection
– Dropping off books, games or movies

“If this all ended tomorrow, we now have an extended family in the street I never knew were there. I found many long term residents who have lovely, long-established support networks in the street who I’d never met. We cannot be physically close to two sets of parents in the vulnerable group, but we have someone else’s parents next door. We hope to be here for a long time.” says Carolyn.

Anyone in Australia can start a Street Crew by clicking here.

Gather My Crew
W: gathermycrew.org.au/
F: facebook.com/gathermycrew/

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