Snake Valley resident Daniel Ferguson started with an idea to support families affected by bushfire in January.
He launched Helping Homes, a website to assist families affected by fire find a temporary place to stay, the next day.
Within weeks more than 1000 property owners listed their homes and land as available for those in need of a safe place to stay and keep their animals.
Now Mr Ferguson's project has garnered the support of 12 volunteers from across the country and together they have formed new foundation the Helping Group.
The team is preparing to launch a new project called Support Them in the coming months, an online platform for customers to shop from regional and rural communities.
I am looking to future proof these small communities in any way I can.Daniel Ferguson, Helping Group director
"We knew Helping Homes was something people wanted and needed, but certainly we saw a need to help Australians in metropolitan areas be able to reach out to these communities and be able to support them," Mr Ferguson said.
"Some of the other things going on in this space like Buy From The Bush and the Empty Esky campaign are great, especially when travel restrictions ease up.
"But I am looking more into the future about how we can redesign the business landscape for small to medium businesses Australia wide.
"We are not just looking at rebuilding from COVID-19, but what happens next time. I am looking to future proof these small communities in any way I can."
Mr Ferguson said the Helping Group was working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Bushfire Recovery Victoria to deliver Support Them.
He said the team was working with businesses in bushfire affected communities to get their products on the platform and training them to feel confident in this new model of business.
It is hoped the platform will be launched in the next two months, ready for customers to purchase from.
"This will help support local economies, keep Australian jobs going and help people purchase Australian made products and produce," Mr Ferguson said.
After launching Helping Homes in January, Mr Ferguson and a friend took a week off work to visit bushfire affected communities in Victoria and New South Wales.
The pair spoke to emergency relief centres and councils about Helping Homes to increase awareness of the platform among people who may need to use it.
Mr Ferguson said conversations with business owners during the trip was how the idea for Support Them came about.
"On our travels, we were stopping off as many towns as we could not only to talk about Helping Homes, but also just to support as much as we could by buying petrol and having copious amounts of coffee at cafes," he said.
"As we started talking to business owners, they were telling us about how already they were struggling with day to day business operations.
"Even before the public health crisis they were having issues with customers coming through the door because people didn't want to travel because of the bushfires."
RELATED COVERAGE: New website offers places to stay for families devastated by fire
The Helping Group team is also working to create the latest version of Helping Homes and boost marketing of the platform in preparation for the next fire season.
People can register their interest in offering a place to stay. They will be contacted closer to summer about being included on a nationwide map of accommodation options for people displaced by fire.
"With the team, we are going faster than I could ever have imagined we could," Mr Ferguson said.
"I think we are really kicking goals.
"Thank you to everyone who has liked the Facebook page, shared or talked about Helping Homes.
"I could never have imagined we would reach this many people this soon or it would become this big and I really hope whatever we help people in whatever way we can."
Visit Helping Group at helpinggroup.com.au/ for more information.
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