The absence of social, special interest and support groups during COVID has had a big impact on the lives of many people in the Blue Mountains community.
We know that face-to-face connection with other people is essential to sustain the human spirit and support good mental health.
The good news is that many wonderful community groups are starting to bring people together again now in a COVID-safe way.
If you would like to get out of the house and meet new people in a supportive and positive environment, then there is likely to be a community group for you.
The Mid Mountains Bushwalkers have been getting people together for gentle bushwalks and friendly conversation once a month for the past five years.
Sponsored by the Springwood Bushwalking Club and Belong Blue Mountains, the guided bushwalks have been popular with people aged from two to 82.
Their next walk will be in the biological wonderland of the Valley of the Waters Gorge in Wentworth Falls on Saturday, November 28. Places are limited so everyone can stay COVID-safe. To book call Belong Blue Mountains on 4759 2592.
And if Saturday's don't suit, you can join the Heart Foundation Walkers who meet twice a week for a gentle walk around Lawson.
If you enjoy gardening, being outdoors or simply doing something productive, the Mid Mountains Community Garden meets each Saturday morning from 9am at Kihilla on Queens Road in Lawson. Saturday working bees are a chance to help out in the gardens, see what's growing and maybe even take home a little of the harvest.
Positive social connections outside of school are also very important for young people. Gaming Unplugged is a group facilitated by Unity Studios for young people aged nine to 19 where there are no electronics, no devices, just old-school board games, fun and connection.
Young people can drop in on Fridays between 3pm-5pm at the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre in Blaxland. Also returning now are Playgroups and First Time Parents groups which are a chance for parents to meet, chat and build relationships.
There are a range of art, craft, singing, writing and reading groups that are coming back together now too. The Lawson Literary Lot meets on the first Tuesday of the month. This month it was an outdoor session at Mid Mountains Community Centre.
And there are many free and low-cost exercise groups around the Mountains including things like Chair Yoga, Tai Chi and Strengthening Classes for Seniors.
For details call Belong Blue Mountains in Lawson on 4759 2592, Blaxland on 4739 116 or Katoomba on 4782 1117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.