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Need a Friend?

By Tasha Broomhall

Many of us recognise the importance of social relationships for ourselves and others. A sense of connection and belonging can be both stabilising and supportive. Yet making friends as an adult isn’t always as easy as we might hope.

Our often-busy lives can sometimes lead people into feeling socially isolated. Not working, moving to a new location, the loss of relationships, and other life changes, can all lead to people feeling disconnected from those around them. Some of us are more naturally reserved and find the idea of going somewhere new, or meeting new people, overwhelming.

Befriend Social Network

If you are feeling isolated and want to find a way to increase connections in a positive environment, the Befriend Social Network may be just what you need. The vulnerability of meeting new people can be soothed somewhat when you know you are stepping into a deliberately designed positive social network. They have groups that meet around various topics such as sewing, music, walking, writing… the list goes on. Through Befriend you can connect with people across Perth. With a range of areas of interest being explored, you might find something which suits you perfectly.

A More Inclusive Connected World

Befriend’s mission is to help people from all backgrounds to create meaningful connections and grow inclusive communities where everyone is valued and can belong. With aspirations to create a more inclusive, connected world, they partnered up with social event coordinators from all over Perth. Since 2010, Befriend has supported the running of social groups which welcome all adults. You’ll be warmly welcomed by their Hosts who always have a friendly smile for newcomers. This is the place to find friends and connect with others in your area who are looking to meet new people.

Find Out More

You can find out more about the Befriend Social Network at: https://befriend.org.au/
Befriend hosts a large variety of events which are perfect for everyone; so join in!

befriend group photo
befriend members at a meeting

Dave is a staff member at Befriend and shared some of his experiences with Tasha Broomhall from Blooming Minds (this interview took place in 2019).

TB: How has Befriend grown and evolved over the last year or so?

DAVE: Events during 18/19 financial year are 1182. I don’t have stats on 17/18 financial year (they were on our old system) but it wouldn’t be anywhere near those numbers. Q1 & Q2 18/19 = 469 events; Q3 & Q4 18/19 = 710 events. This is a 51% increase over six months.

TB: What role does Befriend provide in the community?

DAVE: Befriend exists to make Perth more inclusive & connected. We work to reduce social isolation and loneliness. We support people to be active members of their communities, contributing by hosting small-scale everyday events and extending the invitation to any adults, regardless of their background.

TB: Can you provide any examples of the benefits people have experienced through Befriend?

DAVE: Here are some quotes from our 2019 Annual Survey of members:

  • “I like to get out more and socialise. I’ve made new friends.”
  • “It has helped me to get out more and not to stay at home in front of the TV”
  • “I’ve made new friends while I was at Befriend”
  • “It inspires me and reminds me that connection is possible for everyone.”
  • “Befriend has connected me to diverse people that I would never had the chance to socialise if I had kept within my existing social circles. I am so grateful for this.”
  • “When I felt quite socially isolated it was a kickstart for me to get out, connect and meet people. I only went to a few events but it jolted me out of the space I’d been in and made me connect more with people in my life. I haven’t been recently since I now feel quite stable in my social support network but keep a tab on events in my area that look interesting.”
  • “I have a sense of purpose and sense of connection. I am less socially isolated and enjoy helping people. I am looking to study a cert IV mental health so I can become a peer support worker. My experience as a Befriend host has prompted me to do more for the community and I take a great interest in mental health.”
  • “I feel a greater sense of connection to the community. I’m less isolated and lonely. I feel a sense of belonging to a great group of people I feel more normal because I’ve met so many different people. I feel less odd.”
  • “It has been a very powerful and positive impact. I am now more confident meeting new people, getting out of the house and being open to doing new things.”

TB: What would you say to someone who is aware of Befriend but is not confident to come and join in?

DAVE: We know that meeting new people can be awkward. We say: ’embrace the awkward.’ Rest assured that every Host is incredibly welcoming. We have all been in that situation – feeling nervous/anxious about going to something new. Everyone is friendly & welcoming. Go to your first [few] events with a support person (eg. family member/friend/support worker) to give you support and help you settle in.

befriend group with dogs on swan river foreshore

Tom recently joined a photography program run through Befriend, and talks to Tasha Broomhall from Blooming Minds about his experience (this interview took place in 2019):

TB: How did the idea of the photography exhibit come about?

TOM: The idea came about in early 2018 when I was suggested by a photography mentor of mine at the time, to come up with a project that I could do with the result being that it would be my own solo show. At that point I had done my first solo show in 2017 which was to do with the heritage and architecture of some of Perth’s old buildings. The show was called “Then and Now, Now and Then” it was a great success and I learned a lot from it. Suffice to say it was the beginning of my photography journey to say that Tom has arrived!

So for my second solo show I wanted to do something different, something I never tried before and then it just hit me, Befriend! I had been with this fantastic ‘not-for-profit’ organisation for a number of years now, volunteering with them as an Events Host. So being heavily involved with them I wanted to do something that would combine my passion for photography and bring my love of social inclusion with Befriend together.

So I elaborated on this idea by thinking of their core values. Befriend have 5 core values that sum them up to a tee:

  • inclusion
  • authenticity
  • curiosity
  • fun
  • sustainability.

These values are mentioned verbally on Befriend’s own website but what I noticed was that while people can see these values through words, these values not so much visually with the use of pictures. So I thought what if I can create a story narrative of these value’s in a photography show, that people can not only visually see my own interpretation of these values in how friendships are built but as well as it being a story that people can try and put together like a jigsaw puzzle and see what they see from the story I’m trying to tell of each value!

So I set out on a year-long project to plan, sketch, find models to do 5 photography shoots, each shoot photographing and selecting the best photos for use as I went along, to eventually finishing early this year and finding a venue that would match the theme of this idea and I looked no further than the YMCA Gallery and their work with teenagers, young adults and their families, which friendships are very important, as well as part of what the YMCA stands for. So after that it was official that idea and long drawn out year-long project had finally became a reality and would be an actual exhibition.

TB: What would you like to share about yourself and your work?

TOM: Hi, my name is Tom and I’m a 29 year old emerging photographer who has been doing photography for 4 years now. I started taking photos when I was in high school and continued to take photos whenever I was on holidays, but I never considered photography as a profession. So back in 2016 as I was doing art at a not-for-profit organisation called DADAA (Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts Australia), a photography workshop opened up and after 2 months in I found that I had a love for taking photos, being creative and so I developed a passion for photography.

It was also during that time I applied to get a grant which was called ‘The Nexus Grant’ and was successful. With this grant for me it was all about getting myself a DSLR Camera along with two standard lenses which allowed me to take better quality photos and being able to print them out for exhibition display. The Nexus Grant was also what I used to put on my first solo show ‘Then and Now, Now and Then’ back in June of 2017 at Henry on Eighth in Maylands.

After the success of my first show the next 2 years, I have been in numerous exhibitions both solo and group, most of them with DADAA!. I have as well incredibly enough won two awards in that time. One was in an art’s exhibition in August of 2017 called ‘As We Are Art Awards’ in which I was highly commended along with similar accomplishment the following year in a Queensland photography competition called “Multi-Cap: Life through the Lens” which I was highly commended again.

These photos that won these awards were both different in their own way, but both told a story. The one that was featured in the As We Are Arts Awards was called ‘The Mysterious Stream’ and the other one in the Multi-Cap competition was taken from the Maylands Street Festival in 2018 known simply as ‘Festival BBQ’!

Currently I have been building up my photography profile and have been using the opportunity to take on a number of photography jobs this year. I have been lucky enough to have taken photos for such organisation’s such as Arts Access Australia and Perth City Farm. This has allowed me to gain experience as a photographer and help push me in the right direction to take my photography to that next level, both with telling a story in my pictures and finding the field of photography I want to pursue.

Overall my future looks bright and hopefully I look to one day make a living with taking photos for people but also to go and study and become a professional photographer. I may be a lot more older now to the game than some photographers out there who got their start when they were very young. But one thing I have learned it’s never too late to start something, as long as you have the passion and the hunger to succeed in a very changing industry and world of growing technology.

As well it’s important to not only be true to yourself, but as well knowing that you can be just as good as anyone out there who is a photographer just by listening and keeping your eyes open and always learning as you go. Cause you can achieve anything you put your mind to it. This is my tip to anyone who wants to be an artist, especially in Perth.

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Photos: Tom Linden-Wood

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