Tales from Across The Befriend Social Network

On a very practical level, The Befriend Social Network is a community consisting of over 10,000 members who participate in nearly 200 events every month. On the surface, these events seem like simple, every-day interactions like going for coffee, social knitting, playing board games or going for a walk, but on a broader level, these social gatherings are helping to build a growing movement of inclusion, whereby diversity is celebrated and welcomed. None of this would exist without someone initiating these social gatherings and extending the invitation to participate. These are the tales from across the Network.

A colourful yarn bombing in Armadale! - Story by Befriend Community Builder (Armadale), Jane. [May, 2019]

[photo credit: Examiner Newspapers]

"As a Community Builder in Armadale and Gosnells, I was recently invited to join a group called 'Activate Jull Street Mall', who had an aim to bring a sense of community and vibrancy back to the mall. Someone suggested that a 'yarn bombing' (a very colourful, fun type of woolly street art that covers objects) might be an awesome way to get passersby to look up from their phones occasionally and create conversation. I instantly thought of Armadale's Knitting and Crocheting Group who are community-minded, talented and know how to bomb a good yarn! 

Needless to say, they were really enthusiastic and before I knew it, wool was kindly donated, granny squares were being churned out and before long, we had a tree rug ready to rock and roll! One of the members of Armadale's Knitting and Crocheting Group, Sue, had some experience in yarn bombing so she really brought the materials to life and one of Gosnells connected communities, Jenny's Craft Corner, joined in the fun too to help bring a splash of colour to Jull Street Mall! 

March 16th was the official day of the yarn bombing and members of the community turned up to crochet, knit a square or help sew. There were even passersby getting involved in the fun, either by learning how to crochet with us or just helping pull everything together! We soon realised that we could cover two trees in woollen blankets and as you can see from the pictures, it really brightens the street up!

Kudos to Armadale's Knitting and Crocheting Group and Gosnells' Jenny's Craft Corner for bringing a breath of fresh air to Jull Street Mall! They're already planning their next event so watch this space in October!".

 


My home away from home - Story by Befriend Host, Andrea [May, 2019]

 

I've just returned to hosting after being away in China for the summer and I am so excited to back in the community and part of the Subi Sizzle once again! It feels like home. It's an iconic event really, one of the 'original' and longest-running get-togethers and it's awesome to be so involved with it. We had 13 people turn up to our last Subi Sizzle (Sunday 31st March) with some familiar faces and some new ones too! It's a lovely chance to hang out with some wonderful people, have some laughs and share some delicious food. It just makes me really happy!

Being in this vibrant community over these past few years has made a huge difference in my life. Before I volunteered with Befriend, I was an international student with all my family back home, and I found myself kind of wondering how to meet new people, make new friends and build new connections in a city where I didn't know anyone. I came across Befriend through their website. At first, I was just planning on being a member and maybe going along to a few events but, after chatting to one of the Befriend team, I figured that volunteering as a host would be an even better way to expand my social network! I didn't start hosting right away but then I saw that Kat, the Subi Sizzle host, was in search of a co-host and I thought, hey, why not! And so my Sizzle Adventure began last year. Since then, I've finished my undergrad degree and I've got to know the Befriend team really well, the volunteers, the members... everyone is like my second family!

We're always keen to have new faces comes along so if you fancy some food and great company, we'd love to see you at our next Subi Sizzle! They're on the last Sunday of every month, 12-2pm at Market Square, Subiaco and you can find us by looking out for the yellow Befriend flag! It's $2.50 for a hotdog and $1 for a soft drink and if anyone is vegetarian, then just let us know when you RSVP! And, if you can't make the next one, they happen every month, rain or shine, so we'll hopefully see you at one sometime soon!"

 


Sunset Walks - Story by Befriend Host, Lee [May, 2019]

 

"There's something about walking next to the ocean that is just good for the soul and I really look forward to our Sunday walks together! We've seen some stunning sunsets, walked in rain and shine and had lovely conversation along the way. This photo you can see above was from just a few weeks ago! We walk for 30 minutes south of Burns Beach and then we catch the sunset on the return. There are some benches along the way too with incredible views, so if you need the break or don't want to come for the full walk, you're welcome to perch and join us on the walk back. I always suggest wearing really comfortable shoes and dress for the season... As someone close to me once said "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!".

We'd love to see some more faces join us for a peaceful stroll alongside a beautiful stretch of beach. We meet every Sunday at 5:30pm on the coastal path just outside the cafe and we have a yellow Befriend flag so you'll know who we are!"

 


Bonnie's invitation to play Holey Moley Mini-Golf - Story by Befriend Host, Bonnie [July, 2019]

 

"My name is Bonnie and I have been a Befriend member for about two years now. I attend lots of events through the Befriend Network, like a coffee group and Movies and Games nights. I recently went to Vincent Community Kitchen, which was also a lot of fun! I found out about Befriend when I watched a presentation at the Lorikeet Centre about them. What they shared with the audience appealed to me as I was looking for a new hobby to take up on the weekends and I was interested in meeting new people within the community.

I attended groups within the Befriend Social Network for a while and became comfortable with Befriend and what they are all about. I hosted my own Art and Craft group for two years and then felt that I had the experience and confidence to try hosting a new group.

I choose Holey Moley as I was there not long ago with my best friend and we enjoyed it so much! I decided that it would be a good place to host a Befriend event as I really wanted to host something fun, interesting and enjoyable. Holey Moley is indoors so it's suitable for winter and the rainy weather! It’s affordable and has the option of buying a drink or grabbing some lunch. It also is close to my house and public transport so it makes it easy for me to host. Befriend doesn't have a regular mini-golf event so I thought it would be different and fun. 

It's a great venue and if I had to give any advice to people looking to join us, I would say don't worry about scoring and getting the ball in straight away. It's about having a good day out, socialising and meeting new people so come along. The champion of mini-golf isn't always the winner but the one who has the most fun."

 


An interview with Hana, the Host of 'Mindful Meditation' - Story told collaboratively by Host Hana and Befriend Communications Lead, Hayley [August, 2019]

 

Hana, can you tell me about how you found out about Befriend?

"So I actually met Kathrine last year [pssstt, Hayley here, just for those of you that don’t know, Kathrine was a part of the Befriend Community team last year!] at a City of Belmont workshop. It wasn’t a Befriend one, I think it was one on Aged Care, and Kathrine was there and we just got chatting. She was very outspoken and told me all about Befriend and what was happening there! So that’s how I found out. You could say it was almost like an accident to hear about it!"

What made you decide to get involved in the Befriend Social Network?

"I caught up with Kathrine a few times after that and after a few chats and getting to know more about Befriend, I began to think about what I could do for Befriend. I thought to myself ‘what do I have to give the local community?’ and then I had this idea that I could do meditation. I'm very grateful for Kathrine who helped me to find me a more suitable room for Mindfulness Meditation. The room in the local library is free of charge to use and I would like to express a big thanks to both Kathrine and City of Belmont for their help.

Meditation is a really interesting event to host within the community as there are just so many health benefits for taking that time for a weekly self-check-in. What made you decide to go ahead with hosting a meditation event?

"I’ve been practising for five years now and I started hosting last June. I knew it was something that I wanted to share with everyone because looking after your mind is important. In January of 2014, I had a car accident. My car was written off and I had pains in my body; I was full of tension and was dealing with anxiousness, anger, frustration. It was like my mind was a piece of broken glass, I couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t find my balance. Before the accident, I knew meditation was good for you and had lots of health benefits but I just never had the time. I’ve always taken the time to look after my body physically – I go to the gym and I’ve been a member for ten years, and I practise yoga – but not my mind. I suppose the car accident was a ‘spiritual awakening’, life just threw it at me and I knew I had to find the strength to heal. I thought to myself ‘Okay, Hana. You have to be strong and hold your family together’. I felt lost and in crises and, although it wasn’t easy, I made a decision to try to heal my mind! Meditation helped me do that and I wanted to share it with others. I tell everyone, ‘if you have tension, or you’re in crises, anything going on inside of you… you meditate!’."

Wow, Hana. Thanks so much for sharing that. What an incredibly inspiring outcome from something probably really traumatic for you and your family. The fact that you’re so driven by this desire to share this passion with your community is really lovely. What does community mean to you?

"I came to Australia from Mongolia 20 years ago and I’ll admit, for the first ten years I struggled! I was working all the time and so busy. And then, ten years ago, when I suddenly found that I had some more time, it was like I looked up and discovered ‘I have a community around me!’. It was a lightbulb moment! And when the car accident kept me at home because I was healing, I wondered how to give more in my community because I had all this time. I like to keep busy and I volunteer in Aged Care and for the City of Belmont. I also host students from Japan. I meet with Sandie who organises the Befriend events for me most Saturdays and it’s a really nice connection we have. It helps keep me up to date with what’s happening within the community and with the RSVP’s for Mindful Meditation within Meetup (as she does that bit for me!)"

You are very busy! What is it like to be a host and to be connecting to your community through meditation?

"I am really grateful to be a part of the City of Belmont and to be an ordinary citizen with a chance to do something for the residents of this beautiful place. I remember wanting to do something and thought, ‘yes, meditation, I can do that’. I started by hiring a room at the back of my local gym... it was expensive as I had no real income, but I was determined to do this. Thankfully, with Kathrine's help, we found the room in the library to use! Now, people who come along to meditate can bring along a gold coin to donate to a not-for-profit called Wheelchair for Kids Mongolia, so they're doing something great for their minds and for children in need. I had an amazing thing happen once I’d been hosting for just two or three sessions… I had Cassie Rowe MLA, Member for Belmont come to one of my meditation classes! I had put the meditation activity on the "What’s on in Belmont" website and she just came along and I knew who she was straight away, as I’d seen her picture in the local paper and read all about her. I thought to myself ‘is she really going to stay with me for the whole 30 minutes?’ and she did! I couldn’t believe she was there!"

That’s really great! Did it make you more nervous knowing that she would be there in your group, meditating with you?

"It actually really encouraged me along and motivated me to keep up with it. I knew then that I was doing something good in my local community and I think that’s why Cassie came along and supported me. We actually kept chatting through email after a few times. I don’t have a colour printer so she had some Mindful Meditation flyers printed for me. So kind of her and I’ve wanted to say thank you for her support for a while now! I'm also going to take this opportunity to thank Majigsuren Enkhsaikhan for making the Mindfulness Meditation flyer, too. 

Well, Cassie, if you’re reading this, all of us at Befriend are super grateful for you encouraging Hana along and helping her with her flyers! Last question for you; do you have any advice for anyone looking to explore meditation as an ongoing commitment to their health?

"Find your goal, feel inside you, and look after your mind."

 


How the humble ukulele has brought together over 700 Kwinana residents in just 12 short months - Story told by Host, Paul [August, 2019]

[photo credit: City of Kwinana]

"I actually started off doing some vocal training for about three years before I even picked up a ukulele. I started to think to myself, ‘no one in Kwinana is doing a ukulele community group’ and when I bought it up at a Befriend meeting in a café, I got this response of ‘I’d like to see you try!’. So, I thought that sounded like a bit of a challenge!

I walked down the hill to our community centre and met Janet. I really believe you meet people by design and when we got talking, I explained what I wanted to do with a uke group and Janet was really keen. We were looking for reasons to use the community centre and get people in and together, it was something we could work towards.

We started off with just 3 people on that first event. There was me, Janet - who worked at the centre - and another participant. Now, just a year on, we’ve had 700 people come through the door. Like this morning, we had 28 people turn up! Some people come every time and they say how much they look forward to it, and others come along when they can. Whatever you want to do is fine by us; we’re an ‘open door’ group. And we get all capabilities join in because literally, everyone is welcome. If you just want to come along and strum a few chords, have a sing and stay for a coffee, that’s great. It’s about getting people out and talking, face to face, not online, not on their iPhones, but out in the community.

And the ukulele is such a social instrument. People can walk into our event having a bad day and leave with a smile on their faces. I knew about five chords a year ago and now I know probably about thirteen or fourteen. I’ve learnt so much and not just from this group but from connecting online with other ukulele groups around the world. I’ve met some lovely people through this. We do play-outs in coffee shops and the civic centre as well. On Anzac Day, three of us got together and played ANZAC songs that got people talking about their relatives and thinking about the significance of it all. Songs like Bob Dylan's Blowin’ in the Wind. We had people tell us after how nice it was to hear songs like that in public on that day.

Look for us on the Befriend Meetup page, come along - stay for a song or two and have a coffee. You can just enjoy being in the community for a few hours. We’d love to see you there!”

 


Chatting with a FengShui Life Coach, Befriend Host and a generous, kind soul - Story told by Host and Community Builder, Inger and Host Ed [September, 2019]

 

Hi Ed! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

"Essentially I am a FengShui Life Coach electing to promote the best of East & West towards wellness nowadays. In summary, my background is Traditional Chinese Practitioner & retired clinical psychologist. My current love is herbal-gardening & dabbling with homemade body products concoctions."

Please tell us a bit about your experience with Befriend?

"My experience with Befriend has been very positive & I read a strong vibe of genuine love & concern here. Very happy to be in this big, positive, happy family to learn/grow/help others."

How did you find out about this community?

"The demise of my spouse left me 'handicapped' socially as I don't have any family in Australia. I decided to google on what I could participate in WA without being an "expensive-gossipy" club! I am glad to have found Befriend."

I'm sorry to hear that! But also thankful you found this community. How long have you been a Befriend member?

"I joined on10th December 2018".

What made you decide to host and share your experiences with others in your community?

"Having experienced first hand the sincerity & kindness Befriend has shown me, I am touched to reciprocate with my wellness knowledge and skills to bring more rays of sunshine to others. In all my past clinical experiences, it doesn't need to take a broken body to break a person. In my opinion, the worst pains can be emotional ones. Therefore, I often host events to help heal body & mind so that hopefully those in need can enjoy a little fun whilst coping with their challenges. I pray that my desire to do good deeds for others will create a domino effect within Befriend & beyond, with united love & harmony."

Wow, Ed, thanks for sharing that with us. I have no doubt that your kindness does create a domino effect and helps members of your community to cope with challenges. What Befriend events have you hosted?

"FengShui Vision Board, Creative Oriental Exercise."

Have you attended any other events within the Befriend Social Network?

"Yes!"

How often do you host your events?

"On average, once a month."

Do you have any advice for others looking to contribute to their community and having the opportunity to meet new people?

"To potential hosts - anything that is your strength or favourite will be best, as your passionate energy will transmit onto attendees. To Befriend members - if time is of the essence, attend anything which will help improve balancing your left & right brain because this will translate to improving your positive lifestyle."

What meetups or events do you think would be good to see added to our current calendar of events?

"Current events are great & I believe more varieties will be hosted in the near future."

What’s been a highlight of your time volunteering with Befriend?

"The joy, sense of peace & fulfilment connecting with those who seek & desire to learn."

If you had to think of a Mascot for Befriend - what would you choose?

"Owl."

 


A community connector, knitter and ukulele player - Story told by Host, Nancy [September, 2019]

 

"I first found out about Kwinana/Rockingham Befriend about three years ago through a local newspaper article asking people if they would be interested in being involved. I rang Befriend and told them my volunteering history and how I enjoyed talking to people, making them feel comfortable and having fun. Befriend said they were thrilled to hear from me and that they would be in touch with dates for my induction.

I have been a host since day one and love every moment!

I have hosted at Koorliny Seniors Music Friday’s, Pub lunches at The Local in Kwinana, Knitting and Crochet days at Kwinana and currently A Quiz night at the Rockingham Sailing Club once a month. We have had a few “theme nights” on Quiz nights and dress-up nights for Halloween, Christmas and AFL Football Finals nights and Valentine Day.

There is a strong rumour that I cheat on the Quiz nights! I tell everyone that if you can laugh and maybe cheat a little then you will have a great night.

When new people come they are made welcome, I explain how they order food, explain about the questions, introduce them to everyone and make them feel relaxed. We divide everyone into teams and have fun. We have won first prize "a dinner for two" on a few occasions and also won minor prizes including a jug of beer or soft drink or dessert for four people. We have many people come back time after time and we all get together and talk. Sometimes we miss the questions because we are laughing!

I attend community meetings on behalf of Befriend and talk about Befriend. I'm also going to be a bright little Sparkler as I will be participating in the Spark co-design project in Kwinana. Come join the team; it's a great opportunity to create collaboratively for the community!

Currently, I am learning to play the Ukulele... yes at 69 years old/young and all because of a group within the Befriend Social Network 'The Singing Ukes' in Wellard. It is so different from anything I have tried before. I have no knowledge of music but that is not going to stop me! I am going to learn and have fun... the first week was more of a cardio workout because I kept laughing at myself! I am having fun. I even had homework!

At the Crocheting and Knitting on a Wednesday and alternate Saturdays, I have helped people of all abilities to learn to knit. They love to feel part of a group, get out of the house, and meet others in the area. I make sure they are included and I give them new projects to work on. At the moment we are knitting and crocheting beanies and scarves for people who are homeless and also for teenagers who are victims of domestic violence and cannot live at home.

If you would like to get involved, then just give Befriend a call and give them your details or just come and sit with us. We have fun and you won’t regret it!"