A NON-profit group that steps in when country people need health-related help has celebrated its first five years and planned for the next five.
Friendly Faces, Helping Hands (FFHH) chief executive officer Kelly Foran said the group’s scope had greatly widened since it was established.
The foundation set out to help people mainly with advice on accommodation, places to eat, parking and other services when they need to go to a strange city for treatment.
But Mrs Foran said some of its more remarkable achievements in recent years had been helping a man get to the US for treatment not available in Australia, and helping family members fly from a remote area to see a patient in a city hospital, just hours before he died.
The FFHH board of directors recently gathered in Narrabri – where it all started – to decide on its focus until 2022.
Mrs Foran said the new goals included improving the website and securing fewer speaking engagements with larger audiences, to drum up awareness and financial support.
FFHH will also participate on rural health committees it has been invited to join – “working on the rural health journey and trying to make it easier” – including the Clinical Excellence Commission and the Agency for Clinical Innovation.
However, the FFHH mission remained the same, the former Maules Creek and now Glen Innes resident said.
“When we first set out, we set out to help people, fullstop – to take some of the pressure off and to give people options,” she said.
Mrs Foran said it had been “a real buzz” to review the first five-year plan with the half-dozen directors and tick off the group’s achievements.
“It’s been amazing,” she said.
“I often would say to one of our directors, ‘Why won’t this happen, why won’t people step up and give us money, why does everything have to be so hard?’ and she used to say, ‘We’re not ready, Kel – just enjoy the journey’.
“Looking back, I’m like, wow, I have enjoyed the journey – and we were not ready. We hadn’t earned the funding, we hadn’t earned our stripes.
“I want [potential supporters now] to say, ‘Wow, these people are pretty darn good’.”