Queensland’s Seniors Month kicked off on 1 October with the theme being Social Connections, and Suncare Community Services could not be happier that they will once again be offering a range of group activities for local seniors with the doors opening to their newly renovated Suncare Community Centre.
Suncare Community Services CEO, Melanie Wilson explained that after 18 months of being closed to accommodate COVID restrictions and for renovations, the need for this centre is greater than ever.
“One in four older Australians live alone, which is considered a risk factor for social isolation and loneliness1 and Suncare Community Services supports those at risk, by connecting people into their community through the social and support activities that we run through the centre,” Ms Wilson said.
“The centre offers something for everyone – whether it be some exercise with belly dancing or indoor bowls or a quieter activity like playing cards or just having a cup of tea and a chat.”
“The Suncare Community Centre holds a special place in the hearts of many with a group of dedicated community-spirited individuals supporting the delivery of Meals on Wheels right back in 1970, and then the continued support of volunteers growing it into the trusted community services hub it is today.”
One of the key founding members, June Conolly OAM was instrumental in fundraising for the service right at the beginning.
“I could see that there was a real need in the local community. So many people who needed assistance and the only way to receive this help was through a place like this,” Ms Conolly said.
“We sold lamingtons, had bingo nights every Friday and we also sold bricks to fund the establishment of the centre.”
“We had no idea that from the humble Meals on Wheels operation we supported, that the organisation would end up having such an impact on people’s lives.”
The Suncare Community Centre has in the past provided respite care for more than 6,800 clients and delivered more than 60,000 meals annually.
“When we first started we were serving good wholesome meals – there was a soup, a main and dessert with juice and we would deliver the soup in cans that looked like little milk cans and the main was on a little serving platter,” Ms Conolly said.
“We used to regularly have people leave food on our doorstep, like pumpkins to make soup. Our community has always been so generous.”
The Suncare Community Centre is celebrating its re-opening today with a number of its Life Members, staff and key stakeholders.
Previous company director and Suncare honorary member, Olwyn Kerr still has an active involvement in the centre and is pleased to see the space activated once again.
“We’ve become so dislocated as a community over the past few years and our most vulnerable have become so isolated. It is so important to have a place where like-minded people can come, even just to talk to each other. It really is one of those little hearts within a community,” Ms Kerr said.
“The ultimate aim of for Suncare Community Services and this centre in particular is to provide friendship and companionship to older people, help develop social connections and networks and give participants the skills to increase their connection to community.”
In addition to general improvements to the hall, the Meals on Wheels volunteer space and new signage, the renovations have seen the centre gain an allied health space, a gym, a conference room and newly created office space for staff.
“We are extremely excited to reopen the centre for the enjoyment of the whole community; and the Suncare program of activities planned for this year means there is something for everyone,” Ms Wilson said.
“Suncare is focussed on making people’s lives better; we want our customers to not only remain independent, we want them to be engaged, active and connected.”
For more information on Suncare Community Services and the programs it provides, call 1800 786 227 or visit www.suncare.org.au