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Bridging the gap: Silverfox Initiative in Springfield

Guy Hazlewood    June 20, 2024    3 min read   

The Silverfox Initiative, a community walking group, is making significant strides in Springfield by providing support for individuals waiting to see a psychologist. 

The initiative, which was founded by Neil Collie on the Sunshine Coast aims to bridge the gap between recognising the need for professional help and actually receiving it.

Jason Kippen from Silverfox Initiative Springfield. Source: Jason Kippen

Founder of the Springfield Silverfox chapter Jason Kippen runs the walks that take place at the Robelle Domain every Thursday at 6:30 and at Summit Park every Tuesday at 5:30pm.

“I try and do it at different times so different people can try and get into it,” he said.

“It is a very relaxed environment, and I might have a couple of people turn up, I might have 10 or 15 people turn up. Some nights it’s just been me.”

Founder Neil, who struggled with mental health issues, recognised the significant delay in accessing professional help. 

“There’s a massive gap between someone either recognising or a GP saying you need the answer and getting in to see someone professional,” Jason said. 

“So he came up with the idea of just lending an ear to someone who’s having a struggle.”

The Springfield chapter follows the same ethos, welcoming men, women, children, teens, and seniors. 

“We’re just here to have a chat, help them through whatever they’re going through, and get them to that point where they have someone to talk to until they get in to see the professionals,” said Jason.

The wait times to see a psychologist can be daunting and Jason highlighted the challenges that people can face.

“It can take a long time to see someone and even just getting the courage to go to the doctor is tough,” he said.

The initiative also includes social events like “Bites with Mates,” the first of which is scheduled for July 3 at Ballistic Brewing in Springfield. 

“We’ll all come together as a group, have a feed, have a couple of drinks, and if someone wants to have a chat in that kind of environment, that’s what we’re here for,” Jason said.

To ensure they provide the best support, most volunteers have completed a mental health first aid course. 

“99% of us on the volunteering side, we’ve all been through our issues as well,” Jason said.

“We have also gone through the training to earn our certificates in mental health.”

The Silverfox Initiative is inclusive and welcomes everyone from all walks of life. 

“I guess our big thing is we’re for everyone. We’re not just for men, we’re not just for ladies; anyone can come along, no matter who you are,” Jason said.

The Springfield Silverfox walking group with Silverfox founder Neil Collie (second from the right). Source: Jason Kippen

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Guy Hazlewood