Circle Of Men: A Sense Of Belonging
We are experiencing a historical moment with an extraordinary challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact the disease is having on our community. In addition to the health risk of the illness itself, the outbreak is also leaving its mark on the mental health and emotional welfare of our most vulnerable citizens.
Social isolation and loneliness are prevalent in our more mature members of society with or without a global pandemic, and now, more than ever before, a sense of belonging, conversation and connection is of the upmost importance.
Cue Roy McGregor
In May 2018, Elements Resident (and all-round wonderful individual) breathed life into ‘Circle of Men’, a social group dedicated to combating isolation and loneliness in men.
The “Circle” came to fruition upon visiting a dear friend at the Boronia Heights centre where he discovered a clear need to enrich the lives of senior men and create a space for socialisation and communication.
Roy began facilitating conversations and connections through the “Circle Of Men” which took place weekly at a neighbouring aged care facility. For some time, smaller groups of approximately 12 men including the volunteers (Roy and friends) would visit facilities and provide opportunities to form friendships, offer companionship and excellent banter. These meetings have been integral in restoring and rejuvenating men who are experiencing loneliness or isolation.
Through ice-breaking topics, sharing their hopes and dreams, songs and stories, these men can connect, whether it is through their similarities or their differences. The point is a barrier is broken down to create intimacy and companionship in its purest, most genuine form for men who increasingly find themselves living a life of solitude.
Fast Forward To Now
At the peak of the pandemic, a unanimous effort across the country to protect our most vulnerable from Covid-19 was implemented. With the best of intentions, it also saw immense segregation and isolation as families were forced to avoid contact with their more mature family members.
Even for Village Residents who can enjoy a sense of community away from the hustle and bustle, have been desperately missing their families and friends outside the Village as contact was restricted and outings came with a stern warning from Government Health Officials. Loneliness and isolation were now existing within the Village.
It became apparent that Roy’s Circle would be especially beneficial right here in our own backyard. The “Circle’ is now widely popular among our very own Residents. In conjunction with his weekly visits to St. Pauls, Boronia Heights, Roy has now begun the Circle here at Elements Retirement Village.
While a Retirement Village provides opportunities for socialisation (Elements in particular), Roy has brought Circle of Men to our doorstep to nurture connections between the men who reside in the village.
In June 2020, the first Circle Of Men took place at Elements. The successful meeting saw over 30 attendees join the Circle. The first meeting was an information session and began with a morning tea, followed by introductions where the men were invited to introduce themselves to the group with a short personal history. The men spoke about current affairs, sport, hobbies, and travel. It has since been decided that the meetings at Elements will now occur twice weekly, with men able to participate as little or as much as they would like.
While here at Elements, we provide an extensive selection of social activities for those who live here in our Village, the Circle Of Men is an opportunity for the men to connect with their fellow neighbour in a deeper way, forming lasting friendships which are integral to their happiness and health, especially through times of great uncertainty.
It is no secret that social isolation and loneliness pose major health factors among those who are in their most vulnerable stage of their life. Social isolation can be difficult at the best of times but as we age, loneliness can also be linked with physical health issues as well as mental.
Our Village aims to create a feeling belonging in every sense of the word. With individuals like Roy part of our family here at Elements, we know that our Residents have the support, care, tenderness, and connection that we as humans need to live a happy and enriched life.
We know that Roy’s mission and the efforts of his friends will be heard and admired far beyond the gates of Elements and we hope that the selflessness and love shared by this gracious man will inspire others to do the same in their communities, to help support men and women in times of need