A new community initiative to support local people impacted by the bushfire crisis and other challenges like COVID-19 is set to start.
The 'Shoalhaven Rising from the Ashes' storytelling and healing space will be open to the public from Saturday, October 3.
The aim of the project is to bring the community together towards healing through personal, art-based storytelling, in a welcoming, happy and safe environment.
Priest Administrator for the Catholic Parish Milton and project management team member, Father Michael Dyer, believes the initiative is a much-needed one.
"It's an initiative to try to support people who are still impacted by the bushfires but maybe also now by other crises - COVID for example," Fr Dyer said.
"We are running it under our banner of 'Rising from the Ashes'."
The Milton parish, back in February, with support from other strategic partnerships, ran a Rising from the Ashes event at the Ulladulla Civic Centre and they had planned other events.
"Then COVID struck and we and other groups who were planning other bushfire recovery events kind of went underground," Fr Dyer said.
"However, now we are back and using this space [in Wason Street just up from Milton Public School] to encourage people to come and tell their stories with a view to them healing and recovering."
Fr Dyer said a group of volunteers would be on hand to assist, along with mental health teams and catholic care.
He said it's not a counselling centre as such but more of a creative place where people can draw, create mosaics, use clay and videos.
"It's for whatever people feel they would like to do," Fr Dyer said.
"This is meant to give people something that enables them to be able to express themselves in a creative way."
He hopes people will be willing to tell their stories.
"We hope to gather those stories for an exhibition in about 12 months at a public space," Fr Dyer said.
He added it would be a way of honouring people's stories while giving them hope and the strength to move on.
There will be a "soft" opening this Saturday, October 3 and an official opening on Saturday, November 7.
It will then be open every Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 2pm.
Fr Dyer thinks people will make use of the centre.
He added the information he was getting from mental health teams was that people's general wellbeing was still challenged.
"There is a real need but a lot of the need has been underground because people are themselves anxious because of COVID," Fr Dyer said.
"We hope to scourge people to come out of lockdown and to come to a safe place where they will be cared for," he went on to add.
There will be free workshops such as painting and drawing, ceramics, mosaics, dance, wood-turning, quilting photography, video and more.