Connect with coffee

CONNECTION: From left, ARCH users Elaine Marks and Diane Moellner with Advancing Whyalla Community Engagement Coordinator Cathy Hutchinson and President Keith Sichler.
CONNECTION: From left, ARCH users Elaine Marks and Diane Moellner with Advancing Whyalla Community Engagement Coordinator Cathy Hutchinson and President Keith Sichler.

The Alex Ramsay Community Hub (ARCH) will offer a safe and supportive space for local residents who might be experiencing loneliness thanks to a new program created by Advancing Whyalla.

Advancing Whyalla have received $10,000 through Australia Post's 2019 Community Grants program to fund the initiative, which builds community connection through weekly social activities such as storytelling, skills share, exercise and trivia.

President Keith Sichler said the supportive meeting space would address local community social isolation and its associated health issues.

"The community impact is a positive one with the added benefit of ensuring that such a vast source of knowledge, skills and history is not lost," he said.

"Our aim is that this project also provides individuals with the awareness that their contribution is not finished, and we are keen to help them identify ways to remain vital and connected."

Community Engagement Coordinator Cathy Hutchinson referred to recent studies by Professor Alex Haslam that demonstrated that in 'in absence of that meaningful social life everything else falls apart'.

"His recent study showed that if you are over 50 and join one social group today you cut your risk of being diagnosed with depression over the next two years by 24 per cent," she said.

"Through ARCHies Coffee Chat Connect people can just drink cofee and chat, read a paper or enjoy a game of cards, join a class to learn a new skill, or have lunch with some company all for the low daily of $3.

Ms Hutchinson thanked Australia Post for supporting Advancing Whyalla's passion for addressing social isolation in the Whyalla community.

"We are really grateful for this grant, without it we would have had to charge participants a lot more," she said.

Currently ARCHies Coffee Chat Connect is open on Wednesdays from 9:30am to 2:30pm, with plans to expand to a two-day schedule.

"We are definitely very keen to hear from those attending about what they would like to see happening at the ARCH," Ms Hutchinson said.