This is sponsored content for Gateway Community Services.
Gateway Community Services (GCS) was established 25 years ago by local residents who saw a community of ageing people that were lonely, isolated and disconnected.
So they banded together and formed a community service which provided weekly social activities.
GCS has now grown into a not-for-profit organisation that provides social and recreational activities, six days a week, in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne.
The service includes door-to-door community transport which makes sure that those who may normally be unable to attend can do so.
GCS has a range of services to support our community to feel connected including social lunches, shopping trips, markets, fishing, movies, community activities, cultural specific programs, a social café, warm water exercise, training and education programs.
GCS provides services to people receiving Home Care Packages and National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) packages.
Through the various services provided, GCS now services over 350 people and that number continues to grow.
GCS also provides volunteering opportunities for those who wish to support the community and keep active.
"Many families get in contact with us because their loved ones have become isolated and lonely. Their families need to work and have other commitments," said Programs Manager Irene Tupper.
"This has become very true with my family where my mother has become the sole carer for my father who has Parkinson's disease.
"Both my mum and dad now enjoy social activities with GCS which makes me feel reassured that they are still able to access outings and be part of their community without solely relying on myself or my brothers daily."
GCS is aware of the daily impact that isolation and loneliness has on both the individual and the society.
International research has consistently identified that the experience of loneliness for an older person is a significant risk factor for morbidity and mortality.
Recent research has demonstrated that loneliness triggers physiological responses that make people ill, and experiencing extreme loneliness can increase a person's chances of premature death by 14 per cent.
Research emphasises the importance of good relationships for older people to develop resilience and the ability to deal with adversity and stress.
Rosemary Carroll has been a Gateway member since February 2011.
"I LOVE Gateway," she said.
"I'm quite isolated where I live, I don't know my neighbours. I'm a bit disabled and sometimes have extreme pain. Gateway allows me to get out of the house. I've made friends and the staff and volunteers are very caring and helpful."