Loneliness is not very often talked about in daily life, but it can underpin many peoples experience. It can be debilitating. Loneliness is not exclusive to poverty or wealth. For most people, connection and interaction make for a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
The experience and label of mental illness can be isolating. People can become distanced and experience stigma. The diagnosis and label can be pervasive to a person’s identity. We, too often, live in a world where people see a diagnosis as a person’s identity rather than seeing the richness and depth of the individual. Mental trauma and distress is part of the human experience, across cultures and era’s.
The Lorikeet Centre started in Perth 25 years ago. It was the passion of a group of families and individuals who wanted a safe and productive place for people experiencing mental illness. It was based on the philosophy of people contributing meaningfully. Most weekdays throughout the year between 35 and 50 people find their way to the Centre, to contribute, participate, share and sometime just to be. People opt in to join the centre as a member, this brings with it responsibility for contribution (to whatever level works for you) and a commitment to conducting oneself in a way that is conducive to being a part of a supportive community. Most days there is an abundance of opportunities to contribute and learn new things. Some people attend to participate in certain activities such as arts therapy, Spanish lessons, community garden and or craft. Some groups are run by members.
Countering loneliness and boredom was one of the reasons the Lorikeet Centre was established. Practices at the Centre have evolved over the 25 years however it remains true to creating a safe and welcoming environment to work together and support one another with the elements of personal recovery. Some people rely on the Centre as foundation for social connection, for others it is a welcoming space for times when other areas of life become overwhelming.
We recently talked with members about what they valued at the Centre, see member reflections below..
- I feel accepted & valued as a unique individual
- There are untold opportunities for growth
- I feel less isolated
- It provides a friendly place to meet new people
- Members and staff are welcoming to new people
- It gives me an opportunity to help others
- It is a great place and staff are great
- It keeps me occupied
- I enjoy the groups and learning new things
- It is part of my routine
- The fellowship and nice meals
- The assertiveness and recovery class is informative
- The art class is imaginative
- I am learning to improve myself each time I come
- There are opportunities to give, receive and share
- I am given the opportunity to volunteer
- It has a harmonious, inclusive, friendly and supportive environment
- There’s space to be oneself, and to be creative and grow
- I am supported in my recovery
- Lorikeet provides a purpose
25 years on, the Lorikeet Centre remains relevant, we continue to evolve (including through talking with members) to ensure what we offer is effective and meaningful. At times we face challenges and we work through these together.
Loneliness is debilitating, as are low expectations and lack of opportunity. The Lorikeet Centre is a place where we strive to challenge each of these concepts.