Emma and I always share a bit of ourselves and our story at our workshops and appointments. We wanted to take the opportunity to share it a little more widely.
We started Allergy Support Hub, aka ASH aka The HUB, almost five years ago in 2018 out of a personally recognised need for on the ground, face to face support for people with allergies and their families. At the time we both has young children with allergies, we were right in the thick of it. Emma was already providing counselling to children with allergies and their families who were experiencing anxiety related to their allergic conditions. I had been searching for support, looking for others who may be going through the same challenges that I was – raising a child with multiple allergies and allergic conditions. That is when I spotted a talk on Food allergies and anxiety hosted by Rotary. It was run by Emma and the rest, shall we say, is history 😉
It took us a while developing the logo was a lot of fun (more so than the heavy admin side of things ;).
Fun fact – the flower is a peanut flower, this is what you see above the ground, a field of yellow flowers.
We got talking and it didn’t take long to realise that we both had a passion for using our psychology backgrounds to provide support to other children, adults and families living with allergies. I think it was Emma who pointed out that “Diagnosis is only the first step, the real challenge is integrating allergies into everyday life. This is where people need support, understanding, education and guidance.”
Our dream has always been to be a space where children, adults and families can come and feel supported and understood. Our vision and passion is supporting people with allergies to live a full life alongside their diagnosis. Research into allergies shows higher rates of anxiety, stress and fear and a lower quality of life for people living with allergic conditions. In more positive news, it also shows that people can lower anxiety, stress and fear and improve quality of life through support, education, psychosocial interventions and counselling.
In 2018 we stared with a bang. Beth a fellow allergy parent, nurse and health professional joined our crew. We set off engaging with other providers, seeking referrals from the health system, networking with other charities and allergy businesses. We set up playgroups, support groups and started our HUB appointments and counselling. And we can’t forget our Family Fun Days, by far our favourite ASH events!
Sadly, like many not for profits, COVID proved challenging for us. Counselling appointments increased significantly with changes to mental health care plans, however, our other face to face services were challenging to deliver.
In 2022 we took some time to figure out what ASH would look like moving forward. We knew the need was still there and that waitlists for allergy specialists and psychologists continued to grow exponentially. We took the plunge and applied for a grant through Telethon to increase our service capacity in 2023.
A week before Christmas 2022 we found out we received the grant. I am pretty sure my whole neighborhood heard the call to Emma at 7am to tell her we got the grant, many tears of joy were shed! We are so excited to be able to expand our services to meet the needs of the community and provide as many free services as possible to families who already have the financial burden of living with allergies.
We are a small team. If you call or email us you will be speaking with me – Monique. I am our Director of Family Support Services and our Family Support Officer. If you come in for counselling services you will be seeing Emma. We are hoping to grow our team in 2023 but for now it’s the two of us on the ground.
Our amazing board has been steadily growing along the way, passionate allergy parents and highly qualified professionals, supporting us to deliver services to the community. We look forward to introducing our board members one by one over the coming months.
We also have to acknowledge our community of volunteers, families and supporters, many who have followed and supported us from the start. To us ASH is more than just a charity or a service, it is a community supporting one another.
Anyway, that is a little about us and our journey to get to here, March 2023. We can’t wait for what the rest of the year holds, lots of events, workshops, playgroups and counselling in the pipeline, and hopefully a Family Fun Day! Make sure you sign up to our monthly newsletter to get all the updates on our services and we hope to meet you soon.