Social isolation and loneliness are one of the greatest health challenges of our time. Research has shown that they are connected to increased risk for dementia, depression, premature death, heart disease and stroke . Yet, even before the onset of the pandemic, the Loneliness Epidemic had taken hold in Australia, with 15% of Australians experiencing high degrees of loneliness . The events of the past two years have driven this number far higher.
But there is hope.
Jamila* was lonely, vulnerable, and sick. She needed healthcare and was keen to get job, begin study and make local friends. She had no idea where to get help. Jamila is one of 79 adults referred to Baptist Care SA, a Community Partner of the Community Connections program, since July 2021. By increasing people’s connections to their local communities, the program has found that participants are enjoying greater health and quality of life.
Many people seeking assistance are experiencing complex challenges relating to mental health, domestic violence, trauma, financial disadvantage and/or disability. Each participant receives support for up to 12 weeks to improve their independent living skills and reduce isolation. This can involve connecting to local sports, cooking or social clubs, church, or youth groups to assist participants pursue their unique goals and interests.
Jamila was connected to a GP who helped her develop a mental health care plan, a dental clinic for much-needed treatment and to various employment support services.
To help her get a job, Jamila was linked to a program to assist her with getting her license. She was supported to apply for a course and for a no interest loan to buy a laptop for her study. She was linked to several youth programs and multicultural women’s groups where she has made several friends.
Today she is healthy and happy. Jamila has a good relationship with family and friends and is exploring further volunteering and study options.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about Community Connections, please visit baptistcaresa.org.au/community-connections Applicants must be at least 18 and ineligible for NDIS support.
This program is funded by the Department of Human Services.
*Name changed to protect privacy