A major charitable initiative by one of Australia's leading people care providers has been launched to tackle what is arguably the country's most challenging epidemic - loneliness.
Founded by aged care provider and disability support organisation, Feros Care, Be Someone for Someone has been created in response to alarming statistics that reveal one-in-four Australians are lonely every day.
Loneliness is known to have a bigger impact on health than smoking, physical inactivity and obesity, accelerating premature death by 26 per cent - worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley said her team worked with people across Australia - many of whom were lonely or at risk of being lonely, isolated and in need of human connection.
"In our work we see loneliness everywhere," she said.
"To remedy this, we've been introducing initiatives like 'In Great Company' - a program that connects volunteers with people who are lonely; and technologies, like Feros Care's Virtual Social Centre - a digital platform that helps connect people who are isolated.
"But unfortunately the problem is so widespread that we need to expand our efforts so we can reach people outside of those in our care.
"To help us tackle loneliness on a bigger scale, Feros Care founded Be Someone for Someone - a dedicated charity devoted to raising awareness and funds to help us fight this growing national problem."
Head of Be Someone for Someone, Jo Winwood said everybody deserved to have quality social connections.
"Humans are social beings and they need to feel like they belong - it's as simple as that," she said.
"Feeling valued and giving value to others through meaningful connections is as vital to our health, happiness and longevity as the air we breathe.
"The good news is, together we can address loneliness so people can live healthy, connected lives."
Ms Winwood said Be Someone for Someone would focus on awareness, education and solutions.
"We want to raise awareness of loneliness and its impacts with government, organisations and communities so we can tackle it together," she said.
"We also want to understand its underlying triggers so we can implement and scale a range of impactful programs tailored specifically to address loneliness in its various forms.
"And finally we want to raise funds to pay for this important work.
"To help us achieve this, we are looking for philanthropists, businesses and the general public to support us in whatever way they can, be it as co-funders, advocates, volunteers or donors."
Ms Buckley said Feros Care was the right organisation to steer this project.
"For more than 30 years, Feros Care has been actively advocating for, and working towards, helping people live happy and fulfilled lives," she said.
"We already support more than 60,000 people and their carers and families every year, and we are now using that expertise to draw attention to the impact of loneliness and help create a more connected world."
The charity was launched at an event in Byron Bay with the unveiling of a giant jigsaw - a community arts project comprising 360 puzzle pieces by artists, celebrities and people from across the country.
Dubbed, The Connection Project, its aim is to start a national conversation and raise money to help fund the new charity's initiatives to tackle loneliness.
An online auction has started for people to purchase pieces generously donated by artists, with the money raised going directly to funding programs through Be Someone for Someone.
Be Someone for Someone's first national project will launch this month (December) to encourage people to reach out to someone who might be feeling lonely, especially around Christmas time.
If you need support, or you want to be a supporter, visit the besomeoneforsomeone.org to register.
Watch the full video on Be Someone for Someone and its initiatives below.
Be Someone For Someone. Together we can tackle loneliness.
1 in 4 Australians will suffer loneliness at some point. As experts in caring for people, we’ve seen the growing crisis of loneliness up close.
THE CONNECTION PROJECT - giant jigsaw helps solve the puzzle of loneliness
Feros Care's The Connection Project, inspired by the work of popular US artist and creator Tim Kelly, is a visual arts initiative that culminated in a giant, 360-piece jigsaw puzzle made-up of artworks designed by people across Australia including schools, community groups, artists and celebrities.
All artists were asked to decorate their own puzzle piece after reflecting on what 'belonging' meant to them, drawing their inspiration from the words, "I feel most loved when…".
Designed to start a national conversation around loneliness and to raise money for Feros Care's new charity - Be Someone For Someone - the response from the country was overwhelming, with a host of big-name celebrities lending their artistic skills to help the cause including Bernard Fanning, Sonia Kruger, Joh Griggs and Pete Evans.
"This project has resonated with people from all walks of life, which is testament to how prevalent and relatable loneliness is among everyday Australians," said Head of Be Someone For Someone, Jo Winwood.
"The result is a visually striking and emotionally moving piece of artwork that goes right to the heart of what it feels like to belong.
"In addition to the beautiful artwork, the personal stories written by the artists are a heartwarming insight into how people feel about belonging and that social connections are as important to our vitality as the air we breathe."
Watch the video of the unveiling of The Connection Project and the launch of Be Someone for Someone below.
Be Someone For Someone Launch Event - 2019
On Thursday 28 November 2019, Feros Care launched 'Be Someone For Someone', a major charitable initiative to tackle loneliness in Australia.