Students from Central Coast schools which were affected by the 2019/2020 fire season have had a helping hand with back to school costs thanks to a grant from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR).
Social Futures, The Central Coast’s Partner in the Community for the NDIS, was successful for the grant and has worked with Central Coast schools to distribute one thousand $50 vouchers to affected families.
“I have had a lot of calls from grateful families and teachers” says Social Futures Senior Customer Experience Officer Kim Riches.
“Many families said they were not only affected by bushfires but, more recently, by floods. It’s been a tough year, so a bit of a boost to help with school costs was really appreciated.”
The vouchers were sent electronically for students, or their schools, to print and exchange for school-related items such as books, clothing, shoes and stationery.
“It was a really big task finding the most affected schools and students, and we relied on the schools to fill in the picture for us” Ms Riches said.
One school which was significantly affected by the bushfire season is Blue Haven Public School. The fire burned through hundreds of hectares of bushland before destroying homes and buildings in Blue Haven on New Years Eve in 2020.
Jarrod Miles, Assistant Principal Wellbeing at Blue Haven, said the fires came within 100 metres of the school.
“Our school was forced to close for a period of time due the fires and then, more recently due to flooding,” Mr Miles said.
“Many of the families of our students were directly impacted. Some families lost homes, some lost their livelihoods. The fires came so close, it was a really frightening time for our community.
“Though $50 isn’t a fortune, when it comes to replacing the little things for school, it really does help and I know families are really thankful for it,” Mr Miles said.
Social Futures CEO Tony Davies said he is glad they have been able to lend a hand.
“Social Futures has been delivering Local Area Coordination Services for the NDIS in the Central Coast Region for 18 months now, and in that time we have been making strong connections with schools and communities.
“We were really happy to make use our networks, and I thank the staff that put so many hours into coordinating this, to see the vouchers get into the hands of the families that need them most,” Mr Davies said.
Jarrod Miles said 385 families who were most affected by the fires at Blue Haven received vouchers.
One parent, Mrs Taylor, talked about their experience during the bushfires saying, “It was the scariest thing, you just can’t imagine. It was raining fire, and pitch black. The fire went from a kilometre away to being right on our doorstep – it just jumped. Trees exploded. We had 8 minutes to get out.”
Mr Miles said Blue Haven School has worked through the year to support the resilience and coping skills of students and now these vouchers bring welcome relief to families of students.