Published On 07 February 2019 at 01:25 PM
Sutherland Shire Council is continuing to tackle loneliness and will be hosting a Befriending Morning Tea in March to encourage residents to get involved in the Befriending Program.
There are almost 50,000 Sutherland Shire residents aged over 60 years, and of those aged over 65 years, almost 10% are living in their home alone.
Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce said Council, together with community partners, is helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation on a local level by offering the Befriending Program.
“The Befriending Morning Tea is a great way for people to find out more about this wonderful program,” Mayor Pesce said.
“Everyone is welcome to come along and see if it’s right for them, with no pressure to commit to joining the program.
“There is support out there in the local community, all we need now is for people to reach out and connect.”
The Program has trained volunteers who regularly call and visit people who have been feeling lonely.
“Community partners have over 50 trained volunteers ready to provide company, conversation and friendship to those who could simply do with an extra friend,” said Rita Napolitano from Gymea Community Aid and Information Services.
Olive from Cronulla was feeling lonely as she was finding it difficult to get out and about.
“When I heard about the Befriending Program and that a volunteer could come out to visit me at home - I thought finally someone who can give me a bit of company,” Olive said.
Befriending volunteer Ruth Gardner from Cronulla said the volunteers in the Program also benefit from the social interactions.
“The Befriending Program volunteers are ordinary people, just like me, who enjoy a cuppa and a chat,” Ruth said.
“I enjoy my time with Olive – it’s as much for me as it is for her and I look forward to our time together.”
Helen Ivory from BeConnected Community Services said there is a growing number of older people who may go weeks without seeing anyone except their GP.
“Everyone has times when they feel lonely or isolated and at these times it is good to know the Befriending Program can help to connect you with others,” Helen said.
To find out more about the Befriending Program, come along to the Befriending Morning Tea when you can meet the community organisation groups and volunteers and see if the Program is right for you:
Tuesday 26 March 10am to 12pm
Club on East, 7 East Parade, Sutherland
RSVP essential by 21 March, online at: www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/befriending
To participate in the Befriending Program call 9710 0422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and be connected to Befriending support through your local community partner.
Join Shire Seniors on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/shireseniors
Sign up to the Shire Seniors newsletter at: www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/ShireSeniors
The Sutherland Shire Loneliness Project is delivered in partnership with BeConnected Community Services, Gymea Community Aid and Information Services, Engadine Community Services, 3Bridges Community Services, Kurranulla Aboriginal Services and Carer Support Services and is funded by NSW Government and Sutherland Shire Council.