Connecting with others in the digital age.
Since saying farewell to president and founding member, Harry, in September, the Western Breathers for Life support group are carrying on the torch in honour of their late friend, launching virtual meetings to stay connected and welcome more members.
“When Harry passed, I spoke to his family about continuing the group, then spoke to the rest of the members about getting online meetings up and running and they were all very supportive of keeping it going in his memory,” the group secretary, Nicole said.
“Being able to connect virtually, particularly with everything going on in the world this year has given our members purpose. One member hasn’t been out since February and when we had our first online meeting she was almost in tears because she was so happy to see everyone. Just being able to see everyone’s faces, it was like we were together again.
“That sense of connection is so important for our members – being able to enjoy the social contact of the group and the ability to share their stories with people who understand them.
“If there isn’t a group in your area already, I would really encourage people to go through the process of setting one up. It can be challenging at first, the technology in particular, but once everybody learns how to use it, it’s a fantastic way for people to come together for social interaction, have a cuppa and a laugh and learn from each other.”
Lung Foundation Australia Peer Support Coordinator, Chanelle is helping groups like the Western Breathers for Life to connect virtually using our dedicated Zoom account or via the Mighty Networks forum – a virtual platform for peer support groups to connect and share experiences, resources and information.
“We understand how important it is to be able to connect with people, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas. With restrictions to face- to-face meetings, this network was created to give groups a private space to connect online – a place they can meet, share information and video chat,” Chanelle said.
Peer support can help to ease feelings of isolation which are common when living with a lung condition or caring for someone who is. Becoming a group leader and providing a safe platform for others to connect is incredibly rewarding.
“Many people think you need experience or qualifications to start a peer support group, but this isn’t true,” Chanelle said.
“The power of lived experience when leading a peer support group as a carer or as someone living with a lung disease is invaluable.”
“It enables you, as a group leader, to connect with peers on a deeper, empathetic level. By starting your own group, you can create your own community, but you also become part of an Australia-wide community of group leaders connecting and supporting each other and sharing ideas – you’re not doing it on your own.”
Become a group leader
Are you interested in joining our inspiring community of peer support group leaders? We encourage people from diverse backgrounds to express their interest in starting a peer support group.
For more information about starting a group, or to find a group near you, visit lungfoundation.com.au or free call 1800 654 301.