Stepping out with Mackay’s new friends group!

CentacareCQ clients now have an added reason to get friendly, with the newly established Mackay friends group quickly growing in popularity.

Coordinator Marjanca Soke has only been running the Mackay Friends Group since June, but says that the weekly social outings have already made a huge impact on the clients that attend.

“When we started our first social group here in Mackay, I got together with some of our clients to see what kinds of things we could do,” Marjanca said.

“We talked about what their interests were, and they expressed ‘oh we want to do this, we love doing that…’, so I just wrote everything down, took what they said on board, and now I try to make the most of it for them.

Marjanca Soke

“I was so excited because I could see how much our clients needed that, how much they needed the ability to socialise again, and to get out and enjoy company with other people.”

Marjanca said that so far, the Mackay Friends Group (a name that the group proudly picked for themselves) have had a picnic at the beach, visited the local art space, ventured out to Queens park, and most recently, enjoyed a fish and chip lunch at the beautiful Mackay Harbour.

CentacareCQ client and regular Mackay Friends Group attendee Nancy said that she appreciated the effort that Marjanca goes to in planning their weekly trips.

“Marjanca is definitely tops in my books,” Nancy said.

“I don’t have a licence anymore. I haven’t been out like this for years.”

While social isolation has always been a growing concern for many members of the elderly and disabled community, the current COVID-19 pandemic has increased the problem even more so.

Marjanca says that this is what makes the Mackay Friends Group even more important now.

“I think it’s a big thing when you don’t have people around anymore,” Marjanca said.

“When you’re loved ones get busy, or they live somewhere else, or you simply just don’t have them around anymore… that’s a very big thing.

“Some people can’t see their family members at all at the moment, if they live in different states.

“I can see that some of our clients just miss having a coffee with someone, or going out for morning tea, or just simply enjoying someone else’s company and socialising.”

For CentacareCQ clients who have thought about joining the Mackay Friends Group but aren’t sure if the activities are really for them, Marjanca says that we need to remember to step outside of our comfort zones once in a while.

“Some of our clients started out with worries like ‘oh I can’t join because I have a walker,’ or ‘Oh I’m not confident in getting around anymore,’” Marjanca said.

“It’s so nice because I can then say to them ‘well look, you aren’t the only one,’ we have so many people here in similar situations.

“We just need to enjoy life and make the most of what we have around us every day.

“We are all different in our own ways, and there is really so much out there that we could be doing.

“I just love to see people enjoy life, and I love to help them do that if I can.”

The Mackay Friends Group currently meets every Wednesday for a different activity around the region.

If you would like to register to attend, please call our friendly team on 1300 523 985.

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