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How to get involved in your community

Last Updated at October 12th 2021
Most towns and cities have a range of senior friendly activities to keep you active and engaged, while also keeping you connected to your local community.

Key points:

  • There are many different community initiatives available to choose from that would fit in with any interests you may have

  • If you love your sports then a grassroots club may fit your needs, and you don't necessarily have to play, clubs are always looking for extra volunteers to help

  • Your local community centre or senior citizens club provides a range of activities and social calendar events that are worth checking out

Older man working in community garden.
There are lots of different community activities available that can help fill your retirement days. [Source: Shutterstock]

There is always more to do in your community than you would think, ranging from hobby groups to local sporting clubs to initiatives supporting older men and women.

Councils tend to assist in facilitating these initiatives as well, so they can support older people in their community to live social and fruitful lives.

The challenge will be finding the right activities that suit your interests and fit into your soon to be busy social calendar!

Community garden

Community gardens can be found tucked away among the streets of towns and cities, hosting a variety of seasonal colour that has been planted by local green thumbs.

Depending on where you live, your community garden may work together to develop a garden patch to be proud of or can involve getting a personal garden plot where you grow fruits, vegetables and flowers to harvest.

Community gardens are usually supported by Councils as they provide a great sense of community to those involved, build friendships between like minded individuals, and also educate participants on environmental sustainability.

Taking up gardening at your local community garden can be a great way to get out and about in nature, develop your gardening skills, and also allow you to follow a hobby that you may not be able to undertake at your own home.

Some towns or cities may have sustainability programs at their community gardens that assist in cultivating native fauna and flora, which would be an ideal activity for someone with an interest in preserving Australia's landscape and environment.

Men's shed

Men's Sheds are incredibly popular among rural men and are slowly becoming a staple of Australian culture - bridging the gap between hands-on hobbies and mental health support for men.

Men are less likely to talk about health or mental health issues, so the Men's Shed initiative provides a "mateship" atmosphere for participants while keeping their mind and body active. Participants also know they can lean on other members if they need help.

Additionally, these days more Men's Sheds are opening up to women with some sheds organising ongoing She Shed days.

Local Men's Sheds sometimes work on community projects on behalf of their local Council, like building benches for parks.

Join a band

If you have a musical background, then you might find a lot of enjoyment joining a local band.

Many towns have a band or two, whether they are Brass Bands, String Quartets, Orchestras, Jazz Bands, or Swing Bands. You may even have more niche bands available, like pipe bands, drum marching bands, or Ukulele groups.

If you have a golden set of lungs, then a local choir or Church choir might be a better fit for your abilities.

Music groups can be a great way to practice your musical instrument, meet like minded individuals with a similar musical passion, and be a place to jam out and learn new music.

Local councils tend to hire these bands for community events and celebrations to make sure they are supporting local music groups.

If you don't have any local bands in the area, then you can use the opportunity to get some other friends involved in a music group and potentially grow the band from there.

Local sports club

Whether you prefer ball sports or have a good golfing arm, there are usually many different sporting clubs to choose from if you are considering picking up a sport.

Many older people decide to take up lawn bowls at their local bowls club, which can be a fantastic way to meet other people in the community.

Bowls clubs generally have a bar with cheap drinks for members and a range of competitions running.

If you have played a sport for all your life, it is likely you would prefer to keep up that passion, especially if you have moved to a new area and need to find a new club.

Football clubs are spread throughout Australia and most towns or areas have at least one league or club to join.

Other sporting clubs that are always looking for new players include basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf and netball.

If you are starting to struggle with high intensity sport, your local club may provide modified versions of the sport to allow older people to continue playing the sport they love.

For instance, walking netball and walking football are becoming increasingly popular with older people who need a slower game that matches their current abilities.

If playing the sport isn't your style but you love to watch, then a volunteer role at your club might be more your speed. Sporting clubs are always looking for an extra hand, whether that be off field, behind the bar, or on the committee.

Card games and board games

Card game groups and board games can be a great way to keep social with others while flexing your mental muscles.

Bingo is still a very popular game among older people, and can be played at aged care homes, retirement villages or in the local community.

Another popular game, Bridge, is a favourite card game among many and is widely played around the country. There are a wide array of other card game or board game groups available to, including 500 cards, Mahjong, Tambola, Rummikin, or snooker or 8 ball if they have a pool table.

These groups provide a fantastic social outlet for those who join in, while also providing an interesting activity to keep you engaged.

Your local pub or club may provide an array of interesting events including weekly trivia. If you have a lot of general knowledge and a group of friends, this can be a fun way to put your brains together and potentially win a meat tray!

Alternatively, if you like something more intimate, board game nights with friends are a very popular social gathering to have at home that pairs well with cheese boards and wine.

Community centres or clubs

Your local community centre can be a fantastic place to pick up a new skill, engage in a social activity, or even visit for your weekly yoga or pilates class.

Community centres provide a range of activities taught by other people in your area who have a passion for a particular subject. If you have a particular skill that you are very good at, you could even ask to provide lessons or classes at a community centre.

Some classes include language and conversational lessons; pilates, yoga and meditation or sitting volleyball; creative writing, art and craft sessions, dancing classes like ballroom or zumba, tutoring for skill development like maths, english or technology, and so much more.

Community centres put a lot of effort into having a full calendar of things to do every day, for young and old. Visiting a centre can be a great way to make new friends, alleviate social isolation, and learn something new.

Similarly, senior citizen clubs, or over 50s clubs, provide a fantastic opportunity for older people to meet other like minded individuals and get involved in different activities, whether they be for fitness, mind stimulation, dancing, book reviews, movies and more.

Other local clubs that provide activities, social interaction and assist the community you might enjoy participating in could include Probus Clubs, your local RSL club, Lions Club, or the Country Women's Association (CWA).

What local groups or activities are looking at joining or getting involved in? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Transitioning into your retirement life
Social support in your community
Social support for older men

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