FRIDAY nights can be a time to let loose and party, or relax and unwind after a long week of work — but for some people it can be a time when loneliness hits the hardest.
The Friday Night Project at Knox Neighbourhood Houses hopes to change that and provide a fun, low-cost social evening out in a safe environment.
Julia Tasker is one of the organisers of the program and said the idea came about when they detected a gap in the services provided by neighbourhood houses. "After 4pm, there are very few options for people. They feel isolated and vulnerable and there are few options for social interactions."
Ms Tasker said she had read so many stories about welfare agencies struggling to help everyone and the prevalence of gambling in the outer east that she decided another outlet was needed. "A lot [of people] can end up at the pokies — they go there and don't feel alone but it's not necessarily an ideal choice."
The group has about 10 regular members and comprises mainly divorced and widowed women, but there are more men coming along. "We had one man who had lived in Knox but knew basically no one when his family moved away, so he picked up a flyer and came along," Ms Tasker said.
The Friday night activities can be anything from watching a movie, playing board games or even a CD launch party.
"It's important to have somewhere to go and just talk," she said. "We've got some regulars now so we can begin to tailor activities. For example, they love word-based games so during a trivia night we made sure we had some of those."
The organisers also encourage participation and ownership within the group, and sometimes one of the members makes a casserole for the group to share.
Ms Tasker said another aim was to foster connections between the members, outside of the Friday night timeslot. "It's great to see some of them building friendships outside the group."
The activities have been funded by Knox Council and there is usually only a gold coin donation to take part in the activities.
To find out what's happening this week, go to whatshappeningatourhouse.org.