Recognition for Fire Shed Fridays

One of the Fire Shed Friday gatherings, at Tumbarumba.

The Community Foundation for the Tumut Region’s Fire Shed Fridays program is celebrating a Highly Commended recognition in the Community Initiative at the Mental Health Matters Awards.

The program, in partnership with Murrumbidgee Area Health Bushfire Recovery Mental Health Team, involved serving sit-down meals to 29 RFS brigades in the Snowy Valleys area.

The awards were announced on Facebook.

Foundation Chair Louise Halsey welcomed the accolade.

“We have kept the Fire Shed Fridays rather quiet and almost under the radar except for the RFS and all the fire sheds,” she said.

“They are special events where the various fire captains play a major role in bringing their various communities together.”

She acknowledged the role the foundation’s partners played in the program. 

“This a whole team effort, with Murrumbidgee Area Health Bushfire Recovery Mental Health team, Mate Keepers and Mates Helping Mates,” she said.

“This is something we certainly could not do alone. We’re not professionals, they are. We just chat and enjoy the evening and the high teas. 

Both the award and the nomination came as a surprise, and Mrs Halsey deflected much of the praise for them.

“Yes, it was totally surprising that we were nominated and all of the above need congratulating, but the huge congratulations must go to all out there across our region who have been both impacted directly and affected on a wide reach by the fires, and above all of course the firefighters,” she said.

“All of these folk have made it possible to develop this program by making us so welcome. This is all about them and not us.”

She doesn’t know who nominated Fire Shed Friday for the award.

“The first thing we knew about the awards was by email saying ‘The Community Foundation for Tumut Region made the finals,” she said.

“When you see all the other organisations and people across the state who were nominated, we were in some exceptional company.

“The are some wonderful people out there doing extraordinary things and helping to make a real difference for those in need and one of those fabulous folk who is one of the Fire Shed Friday team John Harper, was also included in the awards, and won his section.”

The criteria for the Community Initiative category states the following:

“Recognising small, grass-roots, community-run groups, projects or events whose key aims are to improve the mental health and wellbeing of marginalised communities, particularly culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and facilitate access to culturally appropriate information and services. This may also include ongoing groups focused on mental health or awareness raising events that have impacted the local community.”

Fire Shed Fridays is still very much happening.

“We have 29 fire sheds across the Snowy Valleys area and have visited 10, with a couple combining, and we are certainly continuing and will return early next month to some, either presenting the dinners or as guests, as we issued a challenge that the Fire Shed Fridays continue, and some have, and we have made a commitment to attend,” Mrs Halsey said.

Fire Shed Fridays have been made possible with funding through special donations to the Dunns Road appeal and the American-based organisation Global Giving in addition to successful grants that have been obtained for the high teas from the Primary Health Network.