Friends for Good are a charity. Their vision is simple: to free people from loneliness. Their mission is to increase awareness of this very serious issue for the community. They are the Australian pioneers in the field, being the only charity that has loneliness as its focus.
Friends for Good offer a range of services to combat loneliness including a phone chat line, Friendline, that operates three evenings a week. Staffed by trained volunteers, the service, seeks to fill the gap between no intervention and crisis intervention.
Friends for Good also seek out the latest research that investigates why being lonely is so bad for us. And it is really bad for all of us. People who are lonely do not live as long. People who are lonely have more physical chronic diseases. People who are lonely have higher rates of anxiety and depression, and this makes loneliness an issue for us all.
Research on loneliness from around the world is accessible on their website – www.friendsforgood.org.au. The research makes for some grim reading: 185,000 older people in Victoria are likely to be experiencing loneliness by 2031. These statistics come from the Commissioner for Senior Victorians’ research on social isolation and loneliness.
As the pioneer charity in this field they are holding their first conference – The Australian Loneliness Dialogue – to be held on 13 November 2018. The conference seeks to open a discussion about what it is to have friends, how we can all get involved in addressing loneliness of older people and how modern technology might play a part in this.
If you want to get involved in this conversation, you can attend the conference or respond to Time We Talked, a campaign that aims to find out more about loneliness in Australia. The data collected will help define what it is to be lonely, and assist with providing appropriate services and supports for people who are.