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President's Annual Message

President's Report 2020

The Compassionate Friends NSW Annual General Meeting 2020

Our year started so well with the opening of our new premises in Pitt St. Members remark on the ambience of it. It is a comfortable inviting and safe.

As we are all aware life went somewhat downhill from there. After suffering the bushfires and the floods, Covid arrived with a vengeance and it seems any beliefs we had about the world being a safe and predictable place were severely challenged. For those who have been grieving the loss of a child, sibling and/or grandchild this has been particularly devastating. Grieving people do worry about the future and now the future has bought the possibility of even more losses. It has been said this pandemic has led to a time of collective sorrow in that we have all lost something. Lockdowns, border closures and social distancing have had an impact. Family members have not been able to be by the side of a loved one when he or she passed away. Others have not made the cut for the funeral service.   

Councils across N.S.W have stopped hiring out rooms which has made it difficult for our members to meet. However, members rallied to the cause and before we knew it “Zooming” became a familiar pastime enabling members to keep in touch. Of course, nothing beats eye to eye contact but we have been grateful for small mercies. Carolyn and David Salter started our only exclusively “Zoom” meeting and it has been going well. Shortly, we will advertise the service in the “Land” newspaper to promote it to those in remote areas.

During the year we lost our office assistant, Sheila and gained our new assistant, Shannon, who comes to us with excellent technical and writing skills. Shannon will be in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Our financial position is sound. We have received notice our funding from NSW Health has been approved for the next 3 years. This ensures the rent and other expenses are paid.

Our greatest challenge, however, is fundraising. There is money out there available in the form of grants. but we lack the man/women power to put in the hard yards to follow this through. Victoria has been onto these opportunities for many years and employ a person 8 hours per week to take advantage.  

I would like to thank all of you who have contributed to our organisation in big ways and small. Those who ran groups this year and those who were telephone contacts, your contribution is much appreciated. Thank you also to the Focus team. Our Focus magazine changed format this year thanks to the creative direction of Lauren Maher who works in social media. This has lifted our profile and we have had very positive feedback.

I would like to thank Ann Arculi, who works very hard at co-ordinating our Facebook page. We now have 1262 followers. This year there have been 36 posts, the most popular, a poem, had over 700 views.

I would like to thank our Board members, Richard, Alan, Sheree, Catherine, Joy and Lyn. Ann Carroll and Lynette Foskett who attend our meetings as consultants have not only kept us on the straight and narrow with Policies and Procedures but also shared their knowledge of opportunities for networking. Prue Ibrahim has assisted us with grant writing and we were successful in receiving funding to purchase a new photocopier.

Finally, I would like to thank Joy Rappo and Lyn Ward who have been a huge support to me over the last year. They have also put an enormous amount of work into the organisation.  Joy has covered our office assistant position in the six months between Sheila and Shannon. Joy promotes high standards in everything we do, which is why we consistently meet the criteria for Government funding.

We look forward to the new year, hopefully Covid will run it’s course. Hopefully, we can do more of what we do best, that is, supporting bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. Let’s continue to make a big effort to remain connected.

Linda Campbell