10th September, 2021 — Mental health

Mental health matters at Victoria Park Bowls Club

Keeping connected is vital for mental wellbeing says Garry Walker, Club President at Victoria Park Bowls Club in Rockhampton.

It was a lesson he learnt during the COVID-19 lockdown in Queensland last year, when the Good Sports club was shut for four months.

Advice for Mental Health Month

As Australia recognises Mental Health Month during October, Garry’s advice to locked down interstate clubs is not to forget your members and keep in touch.

“Let your members know that you care. Many people play lawn bowls up to three days every week for the social connection. Most of our members would play eight days a week if they could.

“Many also live alone, really missed getting out and the lack of contact with friends.

“During the lockdown we put out our club newsletter two or three times a month and posted it to our older members who don’t do emails. They really appreciated it.”

Victoria Park Bowls Club helping each other through hard times

Another challenge during home isolation was keeping physically fit. The club was allowed to have small outdoor working bees which became so popular that people were ringing up asking to join. The club was even gifted bright pink COVID social club shirts for their volunteer workers.

Garry said that at the working bees the club would learn of someone doing it tough and would then arrange support.

“We had a group who checked in on our older members to make sure they were ok.

“Three of the girls were trained nurses so they were able to fill a script and do little bits of shopping.”

The club continues to help its older members with new processes that have become a part of everyday life, such as QR check-in codes.

“Some members don’t have smart phones and are anxious about how they can cope, so we make sure we have a list of people that we always check in when they come to the club,” said Garry.

Brighter times are now ahead at Victoria Park which has a growing membership and social activities back, such as a well-attended trivia night and fundraiser for brain cancer research.

Good Sports helps support members’ mental health

Good Sports membership has benefited the club which has progressed through the program.

“We joined after hearing about it from other bowls clubs in the area. We’ve been able to get a lot of information from the one place and organise all our required liquor licensing certificates and other policies. We use Good Sports bar mats and display posters around the club.“

Garry’s closing message is that we all do much better mentally when we feel connected to family, friends and community, and to the right support.

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Mental health