The Circle of Men has grown into its boots.
And according to founder Washuntara, it needs a few more boots to keep the circle turning.
The circle came to the Redlands in 2006 and now offers companionship and support through the sharing of stories and songs to men in 15 aged care centres. The circle meets at least weekly at each centre, keeping a roster of volunteers busy for two hours every day.
“It’s life sustaining for all concerned. This is a powerful program that restores and rejuvenates. Our elders can find themselves isolated, alone and feeling unloved at the most vulnerable stage of their lives,” Washuntara said.
“I think the volunteers get as much out of this as the men at the centres. The circle serves me more than I serve it.”
Washuntara said on a typical day, about 20 men would come together for a “good belly laugh” and “sometimes a cry”. It could also be a time for men to enjoy some music, a cup of tea, hold hands and go home. He said he would like an equal number of volunteers to spend time with the men in order to best appreciate the full experience.
“This is a place where people can get it right before they face what happens next. Today we asked about people’s fathers. You get the good, the bad and the ugly as people share their yarns. This is a place where a group of men can sit down and just be bloody honest,” he said.
Washuntara said since starting Circle of Men, he had noticed that the age of its participants had increased.
“As the residents get older, they also get more disabled, therefore there is the need for more volunteers per group. Men comprise only nine per cent of the residents in aged care centres and ABS statistics state that the highest rate of suicide is in men over the age of 85.
“It’s great that there are things like Men’s Shed, where blokes can be blokes together. The Circle is about the human condition, about touch and about getting in touch.”
Washuntara said the circle was spreading and with more volunteers, it could spread at a faster pace.
Washuntara said volunteers are given full training with the circle run as a streamlined program.There is also a position for people able to assist with managerial and operational skills. Interested people should contact coordinator Kevin James on 0409 105 715, firstname.lastname@example.org or Washuntara on 0406 048 602. More on circleofmenqld.com