Gallagher Bassett (GB) has delivered a further 2,500 Gentle Bears to NSW Rural Fire Service to help volunteer firefighters support children who have experienced traumatic events.
GB has so far donated 5,000 bears to the NSW Rural Fire Service brigades in 46 NSW locations, in partnership with NSW insurer and care provider icare.
“Gentle Bear acts as an emotional aid for children in emergency situations like house fires or serious road traffic accidents,” said John McNamara, GB Australia CEO. “These bears distract a child’s attention from the immediate, distressing situation by providing a reassuring and safe object to latch on to.”
Britt Coombe, icare general manager of agency engagement, said Gentle Bears play a part 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,” Coombe said. “As the workers compensation insurer for NSW, we know that psychological injuries are amongst the most costly and most life changing.”
GB said 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,” Britt said. “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.”