Pearl Beach resident starts online support group
An online emotional support group has been launched by Pearl Beach resident Ms Melanie Raimundo.
The relationship coach has created the Central Coast Emotional Support Group with her father Dr Carlos Raimundo and marketing consultant Mr Patrick Zuluaga.
The aim is to provide an opportunity for locals to connect during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group was launched on social media on March 31 and has more than 150 members.
Melanie said the idea to launch the group came when she noticed the lack of support options in the region.
The goal is to bring people who are feeling disconnected together by sharing their experiences of living through the pandemic with the aim of generating a community-driven discussion.
She said the goal was to make people feel less alone.
"Generally, people are feeling a lot of stress and anxiety right now, but this is the time to come together.
"We may have to be physically distant but that doesn't mean we have to be lonely.
"If you're looking for somewhere to share your views and make connections then this is the group for you," Melanie said.
Through swapping stories about juggling working from home with the kids' new online schooling regime or sharing tips on how to help neighbours who are vulnerable to Covid-19, she said connections between group members were beginning take shape as more and more members start to contribute.
As well as this, there had been more serious conversations about the struggle to isolate, job insecurity, unemployment and the strains of being away from the family for those in front line jobs.
Melanie said it was her hope the group would continue to grow to become a valuable forum for Central Coast residents, even after the pandemic.
Melanie is also producing a weekly webinar series for members to further boost engagement, running every Wednesday from 5pm.
While the group is an excellent place to make connections, Melanie cautioned that it was not a substitute for professional help.
Members are free to talk about topics that matter to them, but for serious emotional or mental health support Melanie recommended people seek professional advice and services.
Interview (Dilon Luke), 02 Apr 2020
Melanie Raimundo, Central Coast NSW Emotional Support Group.