Lonely hearts club band

Australia’s leading organisation in combatting loneliness is set to begin a national awareness week in ten days.

Barry Cook, Wendy Graham and Anne Woolseley from Phoenix Friendship Club. Photo: Reilly Leeson.

Ending Loneliness Together is an Australian organisation comprised of community leaders and experts in social psychology.

Using nationwide research and working with community groups, ELT aims to address the increasing issue of loneliness.

Deputy scientific chair of ELT Jo Badcock says reports have shown one in four adults experience loneliness across the country.

“Since the pandemic, it looks like loneliness levels may well have increased and some people have started feeling lonely for the very first time,” she says.

“We’ve got some new data coming out and it will be part of the State of the Nation report being launched in Parliament next week for the start of Australia’s first Loneliness Awareness Week.”

South Perth’s Phoenix Friendship Club caters to an older crowd of people who seek social connections, many of their members being widows, widowers or empty-nesters.

Before joining the club, Wendy Graham found herself alone having lost her husband.

Wendy Graham has been a member of Phoenix Friendship Club for over a decade. Photo: Reilly Leeson.

“I have three children,” she says.

“They left home and I was by myself – so I needed to find something for me.”

Vice president Anne Woolseley has seen the positive effects the social club has on members.

Phoenix Friendship Club Vice President Anne Woolseley. Photo: Reilly Leeson.

“We have one member, who’s in his seventies, but he joined and and he was very quiet, you know, didn’t talk,” she says.

“The clubhouse brought him out of himself and now he’s on the committee and he just totally he’s a totally new person and just loves to talk to people!”

Wellbeing officer at Curtin University Emily Lockhart says harbouring feelings of loneliness can cause shame to fester within people.

“If you reach out and talk to someone, chances are other people feel the same way, and they will actually be happy to connect and happy to include you in what they’re doing,” she says.

Members of Phoenix Friendship Club and Dr. Emily Lockhart from Wellbeing at Curtin talk friendship. Video: Reilly Leeson.

Ending Loneliness Together have an online directory of networks for those experiencing loneliness:

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