national conference

Patricia Lauria

I participate in conferences but I don’t always like them. We ventured into a big unknown when we first discussed having a national conference. We could not have anticipated many of the outcomes – groups have come forward to work with us, the official formation of a national network, the Friendship Alliance and the calls for support for people working with community members who are experiencing social isolation and loneliness. Our dialogue took us down many paths, research, new ways of delivering services, big ideas and small ones.

Some people, delegates and presenters, bravely publicly shared their experiences of loneliness and it was very powerful.

The other special sharing came in the form of anonymous comments written on the cards that became the backdrop to the plenary session – literally:

“Loneliness is feeling like the entire world is in loud colour while you are on mute in black and grey”

“Loneliness means dark days of involuntary isolation”

“Loneliness means society is flawed”

It seems like collectively we have touched a nerve. We have many new initiatives to take forward and partners to be on the journey with.

I reckon all of those late nights, spreadsheets and planning meetings were absolutely well spent. It may not count, but I liked it. Many others have said they did too. Our volunteers pulled all of this off. Amazing crew. They know who they are.