Federal Mp Calls On Sunshine Coast Locals To Help Reduce Loneliness

Sunshine Coast locals can help reduce loneliness and social isolation on International Day of Older Persons by getting behind local charity Cycling Without Age according to Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace. Mr Wallace got stuck in with the charity’s volunteers this morning at Caloundra Rise retirement community to pedal local seniors around the area on one of their trishaws (tricycle rickshaws). 

Mr Wallace said that social isolation was already a serious issue for many older people on the Sunshine Coast and that the COVID-19 pandemic has made connecting with others even harder than ever. 

“This year all of us have experienced some social isolation. However, for older people in our community who live with the loss of family and friends, with ill health, reduced mobility or a limited income, the opportunities during this global pandemic to stay in touch with others have been very few and far between. Loneliness increases the risk of mental illness and emotional distress, and even makes us more vulnerable to symptoms like high blood pressure, poor immune function and dementia. This year on International Day of Older Persons, I encourage Sunshine Coast locals to think about what they can do to help older people in our community to stay connected.” Mr Wallace said. 

Cycling Without Age provides free rides on e-assisted trishaws around the region’s stunning beaches, waterways and bushland. The rides are specifically designed to reduce loneliness and isolation, reconnect older people with their community, and build quality relationships across generations. 

“Cycling Without Age makes a big difference for older people in our region and, if you are able to, I would encourage you to jump online today and make a donation. Your support will help them buy more trishaws, attract more volunteers and bring this important service to even more isolated seniors in our community.” he said.

The purchase of the charity’s first two trishaws was supported by a grant from the Sunshine Coast Council but the ongoing running and development of the organisation is entirely dependent on the generosity of the community. Donations can be made to the charity for the purchase of more trishaws at www.chuffed.org/project/cycling-without-age-sunshine-coast. 

Cycling without Age Sunshine Coast Chairperson Tim Rogers said “Cycling Without Age benefits everyone in the community. It makes wonderful connections across the generations that reduce loneliness and it makes the whole community more vibrant and inclusive. Two trishaws just isn’t enough for the needs of the Sunshine Coast so we hope the community will help us get more trishaws by donating to this beautiful little charity. Donations are fully tax deductable!” 

The Sunshine Coast Chapter of Cycling Without Age, established in February 2020 and entirely volunteer run, provides weekly rides on Thursday mornings for the residents of the Southern Cross Caloundra Rise Retirement Estate in Little Mountain. The charity has already arranged to begin rides at a number of other aged care and disability services in the region when pandemic restrictions at these facilities are lifted. 

Caloundra Rise Retirement Living Manager Peter Snell said “Our residents across our retirement living community and our residential aged care look forward to their trishaw ride each week. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and a friendly chat with the pilot while being able to experience the lush grounds here at Caloundra Rise. The smiles we see on resident’s faces when they return from their ride each week are truly priceless. Cycling without Age has become an integral part of life here and has created new connections within our community.”   

Cycling Without Ages’ volunteers can be as young as 18, but many are over 55 themselves. 

Mr Wallace said “As I found out this morning, it takes some good cycling skills to pilot a trishaw, but they’re well designed machines and great fun to ride. More importantly it’s a privilege to chat and laugh with some of our local seniors and to hear some of their terrific stories. Thank you to Tim, Peter and the team for their work and for giving me the chance to be part of today.”  

For more information about Cycling Without Age on the Sunshine Coast visit their facebook page www.facebook.com/cyclingwithoutagesunshinecoast/ or Cycling Without Age’s national website: www.cyclingwithoutage.org.au/  and for more about UN International Day of Older Persons visit www.un.org/en/observances/older-persons-day