Former refugees are ordinary people who have survived extraordinary situations. Often, they are forced to leave everything – including friends and family – behind as they seek a safer life.

Rebuilding life in an unfamiliar country without the support of social networks can be challenging. For older people, who may not speak English or are unable to drive, opportunities for socialising can be limited, especially when family members are at work.

Red Cross has developed a new social outing programme to help seniors from refugee backgrounds combat loneliness and build social connections in their new home.

Every month, Red Cross volunteers accompany a group of Bhutanese-Nepali seniors on a social outing. These day trips enable the group to see new places and socialise within the community – a pastime that’s not easy without transport or funds.

Feeling connected with the community is so important for social wellbeing, but it can be challenging in a new place where you don’t speak the local language or socialise every day through work or school, Red Cross Volunteer Programme Team Leader Jettie Skerten says.

The group’s latest excursion included a guided tour of Pic’s Peanut Butter factory, a local bush walk and a picnic. The group seemed to really enjoy the day, Jettie says.

“While we were walking through the Faulkner Park forest, some of the people were singing traditional songs, and many said the landscape reminded them of their home country.”