Young and old brought together in friendship for new campaign to combat loneliness

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Reducing loneliness and social isolation by connecting younger and older Queenslanders is the motivation behind an innovative new Anglicare Southern Queensland and spur:org campaign, #OLDMATE Queensland, which was launched this week

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#OLDMATE Queensland, a partnership between social impact strategists spur:org and not-for-profit Anglicare Southern Queensland, aims to reduce loneliness in people aged 18-35 and those over 65.

Anglicare’s Amy Lee-Hopkins said the organisation cared for thousands of elderly people who regularly experience loneliness and hopes the campaign helps highlight that getting older doesn’t mean you stop being your own person with your own interests.

“It’s a misconception that when you get older your passions, interests, hobbies, and experiences take a back seat,” Ms Lee-Hopkins said.

“We look after many lovely, interesting people who have lived incredible lives and have so many stories to tell and wisdom to give.”

“We also know that up to 62 per cent of people aged 18-35 feel they lack companionship.

“#OLDMATE Queensland will help us bring these two groups of people together to build connection and hopefully lifelong friendships.

“We’re asking young Queenslanders to take the pledge to become a Young Mate and have a go at spending regular time with one of our Old Mates.”

Directors of spur:org Lee Crockford and William Smith-Stubbs said that thanks to the support of Anglicare, there is now a greater opportunity for volunteers to engage with Old Mates across the state.

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Anglicare – not only to grow the number of volunteers who take the pledge, but to help improve the mental wellbeing of Old Mates within Anglicare’s network,” Mr Crockford said.

“Given our organisations are working to achieve a similar goal, it makes sense for us to work together on this issue, which has such a big impact on the aging members of our community.”

Ms Lee-Hopkins said research showed socially-minded young people wanted to volunteer for causes they could relate to and believe in, but young people under 30 only equated to nine per cent of all volunteers at Anglicare.

“Mental health and wellbeing is a huge concern across every age group and #OLDMATE Queensland opens up an amazing volunteering opportunity for young Queenslanders,” she said.

“Spending just one hour a month with an #OLDMATE has the potential to improve their self-esteem and mental health, while also reducing isolation. And it can have a positive effect on your mental health as well.”

Mr Smith-Stubbs added that participants in #OLDMATE Queensland don’t need to have any mental health training.

“The program is about bringing people together to engage in simple activities that help increase connection…of elderly relatives, friends and neighbours,” he said.

“There are some great ideas for spending time with older people on the #OLDMATE Queensland website. Your catch-ups can be simple and low-cost or exciting and extravagant – it’s entirely up to you and your Old Mate.”

#OLDMATE Queensland launched this week on social media, video and outdoor supported by partners Global Youth Media Company VICE and Queensland billboard company goa.

More information about #OLDMATE Queensland and how to get involved.

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