Circle of Men is a not-for-profit charity that runs weekly companionship sessions for men in aged care facilities in Yeronga and other Brisbane sites. The initiative is trying to build its volunteer support so that more men, especially those with limited mobility, will feel less isolated.
Formed by Washuntara Roberts in Queensland nearly two decades ago, Circle of Men does 90-minute sessions at different care facilities, where the men share their life experiences and talk about simple and complex issues. Spearheaded by volunteer facilitators, the circle has helped the men deal with depression, grief, anger, loss, boredom, or fear.
Sessions begin with the men forming into a circle, where they are warmly welcomed by volunteers. Often this is by touch, be it a handshake or a hand on the shoulder, or sometimes through voice and eye contact. The meetings close with everyone having a great time cracking jokes, reminiscing & singing songs.
Kevin James experienced the challenges of recreating social connections after his retirement at 52 years old due to a chronic condition. After meeting Mr Roberts and learning about the circle, Mr James realised that isolation is an all-too-common problem faced by elderly men in aged care facilities around Australia.
“The work of Circle of Men is not only rewarding, but it is also synergistic, in that volunteers get back in return as much as they give, with huge mental health benefits for Residents & volunteers alike,” Mr James, who now heads the volunteer program, said.
“Many men enter an aged care facility as a last resort, after they’ve lost their health, mobility and final network of support, & for 90 minutes each week, Circle of Men volunteers break through that wall of isolation.”
In Yeronga, the circle is held every Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Regis Yeronga on 5 Cansdale St.