Free community support program launches in Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains residents affected by the recent bushfires or other emergency events can now access a free mobile support program.

Gateway Family Services has launched the Step by Step Recovery Support Service in the Blue Mountains.

Step by Step Project co-ordinator Joanna Brown, Gateway Family Services CEO Gregory Lazarus, mayor Mark Greenhill, Step by Step Blue Mountains Support worker Ruth Myers, Step by Step Recovery Support Service manager Anne Crestani and Gateway Family Services finance manager Terese Klynhout.

Step by Step Project co-ordinator Joanna Brown, Gateway Family Services CEO Gregory Lazarus, mayor Mark Greenhill, Step by Step Blue Mountains Support worker Ruth Myers, Step by Step Recovery Support Service manager Anne Crestani and Gateway Family Services finance manager Terese Klynhout.

The program, that supported the Blue Mountains community to recover after the 2013 bushfires, is also being rolled out to the Hawkesbury and Lithgow areas and is again being funded by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.

Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill has welcomed the return of the service, which is important in these increasingly uncertain times.

"The Step by Step Recovery Support Service will play a key role in rebuilding," he said.

"After the fires and flood, and with growing anxiety, people are hurting. I'm deeply grateful for this service which will help our community get essential support.

"This support service walked with our community after the 2013 bushfires. They assisted over 520 individuals and households at that time and I have no doubt they will be critical in our community's recovery this time around.

"People need someone to talk to. We live in unprecedented, stressful times, and no one has to navigate them alone."

Step by Step is focused on wellbeing, providing immediate emotional and social support. The program can also help with accessing grants, dealing with applications, insurance issues and by linking people to other recovery resources and services.

The service is mobile and will connect with affected households throughout the region.

In light of the most recent government measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Step by Step will be working creatively to continue to stay connected with people in ways that protect their health and wellbeing. Step by Step will use a variety of methods and tools to ensure that people are able to continue to access the support and assistance they need.

Step By Step's Manager, Anne Crestani, said: "Our service is about recognising and dealing with challenging life situations. We know from experience that when stress levels are high, it can really help to slow down, talk things through and take it step by step.

"We are here to listen, we respect your personal experience, choices and preferences. We walk alongside you, at your pace. We don't take over or try to tell you what you should or shouldn't do. We're happy to take the time for a chat whether it's over the phone or online just to see how you're travelling and to discuss where we may be able to help, whether it's practical, information or emotional support."

To access the Step by Step Recovery Support Service call 0417 298 832 or email stepbystep@gatewayfamilyservices.org.au. The service is available Monday to Saturday, 9am-6pm and can be accessed by phone and online or in special circumstances, face-to face.