Sharon, a Strengthening Seniors Inclusion and Participation initiative participant tells us about her experience with social isolation and joining clubs.
Gradually over time, I had become lonely and isolated. Spending most of my days at home alone - many of them spent eating a lot of chocolate – I believed I was worthless.
I ate because I was lonely and depressed, and then weight made me feel more miserable and depressed. Some days I would just spend most of the time crying.
I realised I couldn’t continue in this way, and so I spoke to my GP. He suggested I try and get out more – and join a club.
At first I tried, but I was too timid to go through with it. It took me a further few months to build up the courage to try again. And this time – when I got there, I was welcomed in, and since then I haven’t looked back! My confidence has returned and I’ve lost about 23 kilograms – which I attribute to all the activities I participate in through the clubs - including weekly line dancing.
I am proud to say that I am now a member of five clubs in Moe – including the Moe Senior Citizen Centre - and I even sit on two of their committees. And I’m the “welcoming person” for new-comers to the Senior Citizens Centre.
When I heard about the Victorian Government’s Strengthening Seniors Inclusion and Participation (SSIP) in Local Communities initiative – to bring together organisations to focus on addressing social isolation and loneliness of older people – I jumped at the chance to provide input.
Working with the group lead by the City of Latrobe, I talked about my experience of loneliness and isolation, and how joining the clubs changed my life. I even spoke at the SSIP Forum of 200 people – which really surprised my GP as he knew I’d almost been too afraid to leave the house.
Joining the Moe Senior Citizens Centre changed my life. I used to think that people didn’t want to talk to me, they wouldn’t like what I looked like, but now I feel like a worthwhile person, I have friends, I meet friends for coffee, I’m fitter, happier and healthier. Being part of the clubs has done that.
For further information please visit www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au/get-involved/grants/ssip
Club member and Welcoming Officer
Sharon is a Strengthening Seniors Inclusion and Participation initiative participant