John Hoanui has been a long time Coolibah Club member, and now lives in our Independent Living Units in Fitzroy.

John has been a regular at the Coolibah Centre for three years, participating in arts and crafts sessions and enjoying morning tea frequently.

Unfortunately, as a result of COVID-19, our centres, including the Coolibah, temporarily closed which has increased John’s feelings of anxiousness.

BSL committed to maintaining delivery of our essential services during the coronavirus crisis and pivoted quickly to an outreach-based program to address social isolation.

At the start of the pandemic, Michelle, John’s support worker, would visit him at home and they would play board games and chat. However, as the lockdown intensified, visits were not permitted. Michelle would keep in touch via telephone. She called John regularly to ensure he was physically well and to direct him to any supports that could help address his feelings of isolation and anxiety.

During this time, John joined several different online Zoom classes run by our support workers, which he attended most days of the week. His favourite activities include Arts and Crafts, Amazing Word Games, Coffee and Chat, and our Google maps session. This session allowed him to revisit some of his childhood memories, including seeing the church where he was baptised many years ago. John reminisced about the church and the community centre his family used to run, and how much it has now changed.

Participating in our online programs has made a significant contribution to John’s experience of isolation. He has gotten to know other members quite well, and socialise with them as they share stories, chat and laugh almost daily.

This is what has helped John get through the lockdown, and considers our virtual group like a ‘family’.

John is very grateful and appreciative of BSL’s support. So much so, that one of his goals for 2021 is to volunteer and give back to the community.

For more information about our Recreation and Social Connections Hubs, visit