The news is pretty depressing these days. If it’s not coronavirus it’s climate change or Brexit or  refugees or bush fires or the economy or cuts to social services or Trump or … well, I could go on but I don’t want to depress you further. It’s hardly surprising that we may feel a sense of anxiety about what’s coming next and how to manage the things that have happened already.

I’ve often heard the advice given to parents on how to talk to children about disasters: Look for the helpers, and it’s good advice.

In times of doom and gloom it’s easy to become overwhelmed by it all, feel frustrated that we can’t do anything about the bad stuff, worry that there are bad people in the world and in our governments. What we CAN do is look for the helpers and, even better, be a helper.

Now I’m not suggesting that we should all rush out and join the emergency services, but there are things we can do to make a difference in some way. Doing these things can make us feel less powerless and more in control, make us feel more optimistic, and show that there are other people doing good things which reassures us that not everyone in the world is bad.

So here are some of the many examples of people doing good things that you could consider joining in with or donating to or just finding out more about.

Feast for Freedom

The ASRC provides legal advice and support to those seeking asylum. From 19 to 22 March it is holding a fundraiser whereby you invite round your friends, feed them, and they make a donation to the ASRC. I’m doing this and my son, who is a keen baker, is also baking some cupcakes for me to take to my choir that week so that people can donate there. (Singing’s a good way to feel better too.)

Care bags – because children in care matter

This is a local West Australian organisation that provides care bags, with essential clothes, toiletries and comfort items, for children being taken into foster care. You can either choose to create a care bag or donate money for the team to buy stuff to fill gaps in their stock. This is a great way of getting kids involved; you could get them to go shopping with you to fill a bag for a child the same age as themselves to get them thinking about those less fortunate. Have a look at their Facebook page for more information.

Share the dignity

A Facebook friend is involved in this, a project to help collect sanitary products for women in need. During March (and August) there will be collection points at which you can donate, many near supermarkets so you can just pick up a few extra packs when you shop.

Beach clean up

You could organise or attend one of the many clean ups which are organised around Australia, including one tomorrow at my local beach.

And there are many other things you could do; I’ve an amazing friend who, having just undergone cancer treatment herself, gathered 140 care packs for elderly patients who are suddenly admitted to hospital, and another amazing friend who organised a sponsored kids’ bike ride around Lake Joondalup which raised $14,000 for Telethon, and even my son (the keen baker) held a cupcake sale on our driveway which raised $755 for bush fire relief.

If you’re looking for a longer term commitment, then a lot of satisfaction can be gained from volunteering, but if you don’t have the time to commit to anything long term there are still things that you can do to make a difference, to help others and help yourself in the process. As Greta Thunberg says, no-one is too small to make a difference.

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