It might be a simple thing to knock on someone’s door to see if they’re okay, but for a person who has lost everything in a bushfire that simple gesture of care can be just the encouragement they need to carry on. For Doug Philpott, ANGLICARE Disaster Recovery volunteer team leader, that realisation came not long after he joined up.
“I started volunteering for ANGLICARE in mid 2001. Six months later I was knocking on doors with our Red Cross partners after a bushfire tore through Helensburgh,” says Doug.
“It was through that experience I realised how much people appreciated our activities. When we went door knocking after the fire, people were delighted to know that there was someone out there who cared about them.”
While the need to help others in times of emergency was one reason for volunteering, it was not Doug’s only reason. As a committed Christian, volunteering was an opportunity to serve God by serving others.
“My role as a team leader and team member continues to challenge and provide me with that avenue for Christian service. It is a great opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives as we help them recover from disaster,” says Doug.
Since the Helensburgh fires Doug has been involved in helping more communities recover from disaster.
“When the fire storms hit Canberra in early 2003, I was able to provide support and advice to our ANGLICARE colleagues in the Canberra/Goulburn Diocese. At roughly the same time, the Waterfall train derailment happened and I worked with other parts of ANGLICARE to ensure that services were available to support the families of the injured. There have been many opportunities to serve since then.”
Most of the time, Doug explains, his role has involved simply listening, supporting and informing others of the help that’s available. Whilst there is great confusion and helplessness in the aftermath of a disaster, Doug has been encouraged to see the resilience of many victims he has helped.
According to ANGLICARE’s Manager responsible for disaster recovery, the work is about ordinary people doing everyday things to help victims re-build their lives and help the community overcome the disaster.
“In times of disaster, local Church members like Doug can now reach out to their affected community to demonstrate Christ’s love through practical support, hope and encouragement to those affected, their relatives and disaster workers.”
Since 1998, volunteers and team leaders of ANGLICARE Disaster Recovery have provided support to the Anglican church across NSW to care for people affected by bushfires, floods, storms, drought and unexpected high-impact incidents.