Throughout 2020, one of our focuses has been helping people to cope with this additional ‘layer’ of loneliness caused by the need for self-isolation and social distancing. Programs like Let’s Five Loneliness have been instrumental in this effort. We offered five simple steps to make those vital connections, with practical support to put them in place.
Feros Care set the example for each step, with the Kindness Warrior team making daily calls to the vulnerable, the Virtual Social Centre expanding its online activities, In Great Company tailoring its companionship program to the new norm, and 1,000 Notes of Friendship leading the letter writing actively.
The enormous impact of protecting older Australians from COVID-19 behind closed doors was very clear, very early on. No visitors. Fear of leaving the home. Wondering if they would be forgotten. The toll on many already lonely seniors is immense.
Meanwhile, the Feros Care community repeatedly told us “we would like to help in some small way, what can we do?” Knowing the joy of a handwritten message, our goal was to send to 1,000 vulnerable seniors a note of friendship. We asked staff, volunteers and the community to help. Cards, letters and notes flooded in from the widest corners of Australia. We exceeded 1,000 in nine weeks and the feedback from seniors was a real success.
This year we’ve also focused on some important foundational work. We established our Strategic Advisory Committee who support us in delivering key pillars, bringing expertise, insights and connections in key areas. Visit besomeoneforsomeone.org/about/ advisory-committee to find out more about this wonderful group.
Part of the work of Be Someone For Someone is to keep abreast of the landscape of loneliness, so that we can continue to advocate for those most lonely, and to curate and ideate a range of programs and solutions that have greatest impact.
With no single source of truth, this year, our Research Advisory Committee conducted an in-depth review of 300+ academic and social research reports, meta analyses, and program evaluations to build a holistic picture of loneliness. This was the basis for the Be Someone For Someone Conceptual Framework for Loneliness which breaks loneliness into four key cause areas, grouping together those common risk factors and shared experiences, so that solutions can be tailored for the greatest results.
We've always known that seniors suffer loneliness, however young adults are some of the loneliest people in Australia, with over 1 in 3 reporting problematic levels of loneliness in the Young Australian Loneliness Survey (2019).
Be Someone For Someone participated in Univate this year. Univative is a monthlong, interdisciplinary competition where teams representing their university compete against each other to find a solution to a realworld problem that their allocated organisation is trying to solve. In our case, loneliness among young people.
Teams from Macquarie University, Southern Cross University and University of Technology Sydney reviewed existing research and conducted their own in order to understand some of the triggers – to fully understand the problem before looking at solutions. The teams proposed solutions from university networking apps to adopt a grandparent programs. Although Macquarie University’s 4Us solution – a social platform offering university students a safe space to connect with peers they wouldn’t normally meet, strengthen their social skills, and provide opportunities to contribute to the wider community – ultimately won the competition, we saw merit in all suggestions and we’re currently looking at implementing some of their ideas.
It's been a busy year – so we were delighted that Be Someone For Someone was awarded one of the top honours at the 2020 Future of Ageing Awards, announced in November. We were awarded the Social Inclusion prize at the prestigious awards ceremony, which recognises innovation and leadership across Australia’s aged care industry.
Now in its second year, the Future of Ageing Awards is designed to share evidence of success and applaud aged care providers, suppliers and educators at the forefront of helping ageing Australians. It's a sign we're on the right path as we move into our second year!
If you’re feeling lonely I urge you to reach out. Loneliness feels painful for a reason – to force us to reach out, to connect and ask for help. Something I’ve always known, that has been reinforced time and again during 2020 is that people love to help. They truly do. By reaching out and asking them for help, you’re doing both of you a service.
We know that for some, asking for help isn’t as simple as it sounds. That’s why Be Someone For Someone works to create awareness and opportunities for people experiencing isolation and loneliness.
Feros Care was established through the charitable fundraising of our founder and namesake, George Feros. What he couldn’t have known is that 30 years on, his legacy has allowed us to support more than 350,000 seniors and people with a disability. It is the generosity of Feros clients, the general public, corporate partners and philanthropists that helps us to run our social programs to tackle loneliness and we are so grateful to those who have supported us this year. We launched our Gift in a Will program, have initiated a corporate partnership and workplace giving program and established an easy way for people to make even the smallest of donations via our website.
We were also thrilled to receive a very generous donation from the wonderful James Frizelle Charitable Foundation to help us expand our companionship service to some of the most vulnerable seniors on the Gold Coast/Northern NSW.
Thank you for your support so far. To stay up to date be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Head of Be Someone For Someone