by Alison Houston
IT'S TOUGH meeting new people and making friends when you're single, over 50 and you move to a new area or lose a partner.
That's where the Southern Downs (Warwick) Over-50s Singles Social Club comes in, providing "a safe and welcoming place, where people over 50 can come and have interesting conversations over good food".
At least that's Jennifer Leigh's summation.
Jennifer, 59, has been a member of the group, which turns two this month, for about 18 months, having lived out a dream to retire from Brisbane to Warwick, and suddenly found herself knowing no one.
Never a wilting violet, and still active in services to people with a disability, Jennifer said she reached out to the group for friendship.
And she's delighted that many others have done likewise, with the group now boasting 52 members and getting 10-12 regularly at arranged outings.
"There's no membership, no fees, no formal structure," Jennifer said.
And for a lot of people, that's important. They don't want to be tied into set days, times or cash outlays.
Instead, Jennifer publishes events in the community notes, texts people about these and more last-minute catch-ups, (for instance a recent get-together to see The Greatest Showman) and, if they are happy to share their phone numbers, places individuals on a group list so they can make private arrangements to catch up for coffee, a meal or a drink.
Everyone can suggest venues and destinations, with carpooling making outlying areas more easily accessible, building relationships, and letting the group share their buying dollar around different businesses and areas.
"It's really staggered me how much it has picked up," Jennifer said.
"We have a lovely mix of men and women, and such a great mix of stories and experiences.
"There have been some wonderful, true friendships formed."
Members span from their mid-50s to 80s, and Jennifer is clear this is no pick-up joint, just a meeting of interested and interesting people wanting to connect.
"We just start chatting and getting to know each other; the conversation flows and you find the people you are comfortable with and want to know more about," she said.
Few who went along to the group once didn't return, she said.
To find out more, call jennifer on 0400 505 943 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.