Gallagher Bassett (GB) is pleased to have donated another 2,500 Gentle Bears to NSW Rural Fire Service. The bears have arrived at brigades across the state, and are ready to provide much-needed support for children who experienced traumatic incidents.
GB partnered with icare NSW to bring the Gentle Bear Program to NSW. Currently, 5,000 bears have been donated to NSW Rural Fire Service brigades in 46 NSW locations.
icare General Manager of Agency Engagement, Britt Coombe discussed the role Gentle Bear could play in protecting RFS volunteers:
“Volunteer firefighters do an amazing job taking care of the community in times of crisis, however, the trauma associated with these situations can negatively impact the mental health of volunteers.
As the workers compensation insurer for NSW, we know that psychological injuries are amongst the most costly and most life changing.”
John McNamara, GB Australia CEO, is proud of the role Gentle Bear has in supporting children experiencing traumatic situations:
“Gentle Bear acts as an emotional aid for children in emergency situations like house fires or serious road traffic accidents.”
“These bears distract a child’s attention from the immediate, distressing situation by providing a reassuring and safe object to latch on to.”
Research has indicated that providing support to others can decrease psychological stress responses during times of trauma, with the act of giving itself contributing to beneficial health outcomes.
“Gentle Bear represented an opportunity for us to support the mental health and wellbeing of NSW’s volunteer firefighters. We hope that Gentle Bear will not only benefit children who are affected by emergency situations and their families but that he will also look out for the wellbeing of our RFS volunteers. We hope that the act of giving a Gentle Bear will help our Volunteer firies to feel like they are ‘doing something’ in a situation that can otherwise make them feel powerless,” added Britt.
Gentle Bear came into existence through collaboration between GB and the South Australia Police Department to reduce Post Traumatic Stress-related injuries. They wanted to do more to help the children they were coming into contact with when responding to 000 calls.
To read more about GB’s Gentle Bear Program, follow this link.