I’ve been debating what to post in the wake of Monday’s events. I’m sure you’re as sobered and shaken by the siege in Sydney’s city centre as I am, and as lost on how to respond. Eventeamwork is now in the process of reorganising the volunteer briefing for Sydney Festival, which had been scheduled for Monday as well as supporting our clients and their volunteers as we prepare for our summer events in the city. These are small things compared to what the hostages and their families, emergency services and everyone caught up in this ordeal went through, and we are all thankful for that as our hearts go out to those more directly affected.
There was, however, something incredible in the wake of this that caught my eye and that I wanted to share with you. It is a grassroots volunteering phenomenon that speaks volumes for the way the instinct to reach out and support others can really kick in during a crisis. Concerned about a racial and cultural backlash, Rachel Jacobs and Twitteruser @sirtessa started a campaign to volunteer to accompany Muslims on public transport. #illridewithyou is not just about sharing the hashtag (and it’s up to 17,000 at the time I’m writing this). All over town people are actually riding buses and trains with the Muslims of Sydney, keeping them safe and making them feel included and welcome and valued. For me, this shows the power of community volunteering and the way something small and quite easy to do – like ride a bus with someone – can make an enormous difference and help us reconnect with one another. It’s a heartening thought as we approach Christmas. I’d like to personally thank all those who step forward to help as volunteers at any time, but especially in this time of crisis. Our city is a better place for it, and we can all be grateful for that.