An innovative project developed by Flemington Kensington Rotarian Matiu Bush
is combining grass roots volunteering to reduce isolation and loneliness in the elderly in our community.
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Matiu, a senior strategist at Bolton Clarke and a qualified nurse practitioner, is the founder of One Good Street, an award-winning charity combining volunteering with social networking to tackle major issues in social connectedness, and in aged care, health and loneliness.
In his work, Matiu has identified solation and loneliness as major issues in our ageing population, leading to increased Emergency Department presentations, hospital admissions and mental health pressures.  There are around 135,000 older lone people in Greater Melbourne, the majority of whom  are women, and this number is increasing.   Some of Matiu’s clients may not speak to another person on any given day, unless they have a visit from a District Nurse.
Matiu approached Lyn Borghouts, the Community Service Chair at Flemington Kensington Rotary about the One Good Ride idea.  Having previously worked with Rotarian Edith Chen of the Flemington Chinese Golden Age group, they were aware of the issues with ageing residents and the importance of reducing isolation.  Without hesitation, Rotary provided almost half the funds needed to purchase the Triobike.
The Triobike Taxi is a 3 wheeled rickshaw and has been described as a couch on wheels.  It allows 2 passengers to be driven around the streets by a rider and also has a small cargo area. 
Through Bolton Clarke District Nurses, elderly people are nominated for the program which allows them a half hour ride around the community.  Riders are sourced from local gyms and fitness groups and volunteer their time.
Those who have participated have been delighted at the opportunity to get out, enjoy social connectedness and a chat and the relationships which develop.
When it comes to health care, the community is an untapped resource, says Bush.
“Your local Rotary Club might be able to do more for you than your community nurse, but we haven’t yet combined the two together in a model that legitimises the role of volunteers and neighbours as being as important as nurses and care workers and doctors.”
The Triobike made its appearance at a recent Rotary meeting, and members were excited to test the seats.
Matiu was also delighted to receive some funds from Pick My Project in 2018, so together with other donations, meant there was no additional cost.
Through Flemington Kensington Rotary, storage and regular maintenance have been arranged and now it is just a matter of publicising the concept and connecting riders and passengers.
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