It all starts with hello

The simple act of saying “hello” to a person, whether you know them or not, could often be the beginning of a very positive social interaction.

Depending on the kind of day your interlocutor is having, it could lift their spirits, particularly if it leads to further conversation.

Day-to-day concerns often weigh us down, impacting on our mental health and wellbeing. So that fact that someone cares enough to say “hello” and have a chat could end up putting a smile on your face.

That’s the idea behind a new campaign launched this week in the Latrobe Valley. The Hello Campaign that reminds us all of the importance of social connections is the brainchild of Sam Forbes from Elbow Community Building, being rolled out by We Are Latrobe and Lifeline Gippsland.

Over the next six weeks, a series of pop-up chat cafes across the Valley will provide people with a friendly space to connect with each other. They will be at cafes, community centres and in public spaces.

“Hello is about getting back to that basic, natural human interaction,” according to Latrobe Health Assembly board member Jonathan Armstrong.

“It’s about acknowledging each other, taking time for each other, learning each other’s names and simply saying ‘hello’.

“Our social connections include people we know; the friends we confide in, the family we belong to and the wider Latrobe Valley community we live in,” Jonathan said.

Tania Rong, Latrobe Health Assembly board member, her daughter Stella, and Sam Forbes from Lifeline Gippsland at a launch event on Wednesday.

“I’m just excited it’s out there,” creator Sam Forbes said.

“We’ll be out there, practicing what we preach, saying hello to people in our pop-up cafes and spreading our message face-to-face.

“The main focus of the campaign is to raise that awareness that connecting to each other socially – that’s family, friends, the people you know at work, and your neighbours – those connections are actually a positive factor in your mental health and wellbeing.

“So we need people to actually do it; have a behaviour change.

“So if we can create a friendlier community as a result of the campaign, that’s a great outcome,” said Sam.

More about the power of “hello” was included in an eight page publication called The Hello Times that was distributed as a lift-out in Thursday’s issue of the Latrobe Valley Express.

The Hello Campaign is a partnership between We Are Latrobe, Latrobe Health Assembly and Lifeline Gippsland, and is supported by the Victorian Government as a Latrobe Health Innovation Zone initiative.

Click for the We Are Latrobe web site and Facebook page.