Friendship group stays chirpy through lockdown

Members of Chirpy Plus on an outing before lockdown

Staying connected and active during lockdown has its challenges, but one friendship group on the Central Coast has managed to remain chirpy despite ongoing restrictions.

Chirpy Plus is a nationwide group for over 50s, with 200 members on the Central Coast alone.

Carmen Vella, who is one of three hosts on the Central Coast, said the group had been a lifeline for many during the pandemic.

“I moved to the Central Coast permanently two years ago and started a little group called Sea Seekers, hoping to meet some people who, like me, love the beach and the coastal lifestyle,” Vella said.

“I thought it would be a good way of making friends and the little walking group got bigger and bigger.

“Then a friend suggested I should combine the walking group with Chirpy Plus so I signed up as a member.

“There are many members who, like me, are retired but still have a lot of energy and things they love to do.

“Before lockdown, we would have weekly walks and activities – all sorts of things.

“And because I am not one to just sit and have a chat, Sea Seekers is still active as part of Chirpy Plus on the Coast.

“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so I am planning a fundraising walk along The Entrance foreshore.”

Vella said there was a range of activities to suit everyone –from coffee catch ups and craft activities to ferry rides.

“We have a book club and have held cocktails at sunset with local authors,” she said.

“It’s amazing the friendships we have formed in this group.”

Lockdown wasn’t going the keep the group, which includes men and women, down.

“With COVID we started doing virtual catch-ups to keep us all connected,” Vella said.

“As humans we need that social contact – we need to chat.

“Our book club has gone virtual and we do bingo weekly online.

“Each week we have a theme – it might be wear a hat or bring a joke to bingo.

“This week we’re all wearing our PJs for Slumber Party bingo.

“People have really got involved with the online activities – in many ways it’s been a lifesaver.

“We go through different experiences in life, both good and bad, but we all reach out to each other to offer support.

“Most of us are around 60 so we’re all at the same stage of life, many of us becoming grandparents.

“It’s important to have people going through the same things as you.”

Partners are welcome at Chirpy Plus activities.

To learn more, go to the Chirpy Plus website or check the Sea Seekers Toukley Facebook page.

Terry Collins