Help flows in for support service

Choice Support Services manager Sue Deacon remained positive yesterday for her clients.
Choice Support Services manager Sue Deacon remained positive yesterday for her clients. Craig Warhurst

A VISIBLY shaken Sue Deacon was a pillar of strength for the small community directly affected by Tuesday night's fire, which destroyed a historic building.

The general manager of Choice Support Service, which has operated from the building since 2009, said her day yesterday was "not too bad, all things considered".

She and Choice staff members remained at the site at 30 Lady Mary Tce for the day to deliver the news to clients as they arrived at the lifestyle support hub.

"We didn't have too many clients arrive on site and the ones that did took it surprisingly well," she said. "So far so good."

Ms Deacon said Choice would only be out of action for a short period of time and assured people that clients needing one-on-one support would continue to receive that in their homes.

Offers of alternative permanent accommodation have been rung through from organisations around the region, but for now the CHISM office on River Rd will be the temporary premises for Choice administration staff.

Ms Deacon said it was too early to know what would happen and the outcome would depend on insurance assessors.

"Right now our priorities are to secure the building and then we will start looking at the buildings that have been offered to us. We don't know if it will be demolished completely or just part of it."

Fire investigation officers said the cause was "unspecified" but investigations were continuing.

In a classic example of tragedy bringing the best out in people, a group of students who completed a 15-week internship at Choice for aged-care courses returned to offer assistance yesterday. Many more residents joined them.

"We've had lots of calls from other organisations offering desks, computers, whatever we need," Ms Deacon said

"... Files have been saved from the office area, which is covered in soot."

The Choice phones have been diverted and anyone in distress is urged to contact Lifeline.

Topics:  fire firefighters gympie historic building investigations support

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