Coping with any chronic illness is a challenge, and when your symptoms are invisible, the feeling that no one understands can be isolating.
From Fibro & Us - Invisible Illnesses Inc
The group was established in 2016 by our founder Michelle Greenwood. Its purpose was to address the need for a local support group. Since then, it has grown to serve Perth Metro and Western Australia Regional Towns. The team has offices in the Rockingham area, where they host various workshops, Back to Work training, and coffee mornings.
The idea for the group came about after Michelle met with Rockingham City Councillor Matt Whitfield, who had been following her Facebook posts. With Matt's financial support and Michelle's team handling the necessary paperwork and regulations, the group was successfully formed.
Additionally, in 2018 the group was proud to partner with Act Belong Commit to provide mental health support.
Introducing our first service
2017 saw us implement our first service for financial members
Our Helping Hands service has been a huge success and we have been able to provide assistance to so many of our members who previously had no access to this type of support. The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive and we are proud to be making a difference in the lives of our members.
We have also seen the positive impact that volunteering with Helping Hands has had on our volunteers. Many of them have formed close relationships with the members they assist and have found it to be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.
Moving forward, we hope to expand our Helping Hands service to reach even more members in need. We will continue to keep our fees affordable and provide support to our dedicated volunteers.
Overall, introducing Helping Hands to our community has been a fantastic achievement and we look forward to continuing to make a positive difference in the lives of our members.
Morphing into Invisible Illnesses Inc
The butterfly undergoes a process known as metamorphosis which refers to a transformation or change in its physical form.
Similarly, Fibro & Us had to adapt in order to progress. In 2019, the group recognized the need for inclusivity as some individuals felt excluded by the name "Fibro" assuming it only catered to Fibromyalgia patients and not those with other co-conditions. Consequently, the group unanimously voted to change the name to Invisible Illnesses.
At the start of 2020, we introduced several new programs to promote the Act Belong Commit practices. Collaborating with various businesses, we expanded our fitness offerings, including Tai Chi, Yoga, Chi Ball, walking on the beach, and hydro pool techniques to help our members relax. Additionally, we launched our Wellbeing Services, where volunteers provided beauty treatments, massages, hairdressing, and nail care services to our members. We believe that when we look good, we feel good, and this was our way of helping to promote our members' mental health.
And then........COVID hit
The outbreak of COVID-19 brought everything to a halt. Despite the challenges, we remained committed to the wellbeing of our members and explored new ways to promote their health and happiness during uncertain times.
The Covid Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic caused an increased demand for services such as food relief and mental health support.
Unfortunately, our organization's revenue suffered because we were unable to hold events or workshops, donations decreased, and fewer people could volunteer. We had to find a way to remain sustainable during this challenging time.
Our hearts went out to all those affected by the pandemic as we adapted to a new way of life with uncertainty and isolation. To continue providing support while keeping everyone safe, we assessed the risks and made changes to our services
The pandemic led to an increased demand for essential services, such as food relief and mental health assistance. However, our organization suffered a decrease in revenue due to the inability to hold events or workshops, receive donations or financial memberships, and the reduced number of volunteers.
These challenges prompted us to consider ways to remain sustainable during the difficult times.
As we adjusted to living in uncertain and isolated circumstances, we empathized with those affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. To maintain support while minimizing risks to our service users, volunteers, and the community, we tailored our response to meet local needs in consultation with our partners and funders. We recognized that different regions were affected differently, and prioritized the safety and well-being of our service users and volunteers by providing remote support through phone and video platforms. We also maintained regular contact and flexibility in service delivery.
For services that required face-to-face support, we continued providing them while following physical distancing and good hygiene practices. However, due to the closure of borders and an increased rate of infections, some of our volunteers decided to leave due to the risk of infection. This meant we could no longer provide some services, which ultimately led to the closure of some branches.
In addition to addressing the immediate needs of our service users, we collaborated with peak bodies and other community organizations to engage with the government. We shared our experiences and needs, allowing us to respond to immediate needs while keeping an eye on the future.
Adapting to the unpredictability of the time was tough; however, the openness, trust, and resilience displayed every day highlighted the significance of staying connected.
Taking care of ourselves and others, and promoting community spirit became essential. We understood that sustaining our wellbeing depended on maintaining connections while observing physical distancing. Therefore, we advised everyone to use various means like phone, email, video, or social media to stay in touch with friends, family, and other support systems.
Shop 4 A Cause
After surviving the pandemic, our resilience and determination have propelled us towards exploring alternative avenues to ensure long-term sustainability.
In 2020 we were offered an opportunity of renting some store space on the Rockingham foreshore. This gave us a chance to see if we could manage an op shop. With the success of the trial, we ended up renting our own space on Dixon Road Rockingham
We decided we wanted to be like a traditional op shop and be affordable for everyone. We also wanted to create a sense of excitement and anticipation among our customers. Our goal was to provide an affordable shopping experience that didn't compromise on quality or style. From donations by the community, we were able to offer a wide range of pre-loved clothing, accessories, and homeware items that were not only budget-friendly but also trendy and unique. The thrill of discovering hidden gems in our store became part of the overall experience we aimed to offer. With excited hearts, we meticulously curated our shelves with an eclectic mix of vintage finds, retro treasures, and modern pieces, ensuring there was something for everyone's taste. We wanted each customer who walked through our doors to leave feeling absolutely thrilled by their purchases while knowing they had gotten an incredible deal at the same time.
As we settled into our new space, we were overwhelmed by the positive response from the community. Our op shop quickly became a hub of activity, attracting not only local residents but also visitors from neighboring areas.
The success of our venture allowed us to expand our range of products, offering a diverse selection of pre-loved items at affordable prices. With the support of our dedicated team of volunteers, we were able to create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere where customers could browse and shop with ease.
The revenue generated from our op shop has enabled us to contribute to the community, making a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community and look forward to continuing our mission of providing quality second-hand goods while giving back.