Lived experience of social isolation is one of the drivers that makes Linda Deutsch so community minded today. 

“When I moved to WA over 45 years ago from British Colombia, Canada, I was young, newly married and because I didn’t know anybody, I rarely left our flat in North Perth! My husband found a job very quickly, but it took me a bit longer, but I remember feeling lonely and missing home!”  

Linda soon found her place though and started connecting, working for a local university for 33 years before taking early retirement in 2012. In those early days, the campus was isolated and many of the overseas and regional students were also away from their families so getting involved in opportunities to enhance campus life and volunteering offered Linda lots of interaction on a personal fulfilling level. 

“I have learned that being entrenched in community, whether it is where you work or where you live gives you a sense of belonging. It’s a great feeling at the end of the day to feel you have had a full day of making a difference, so I choose to spend it helping people and creating ways for people to come together,” she says. 

One of the ways she does that is cooking and sharing food with ex colleagues from her extended university days, one who is living with Motor Neurone Disease. 

“Friends have labelled me the dessert queen and so my job is to bring something sweet. I enjoy making things from scratch and one best loved dessert is lemon meringue pie, using an old family recipe that I grew up on and still cherish with fond memories of my mum who was a country wife,” she says.  

“My friend no longer walks or talks and needs help with lots of things, so we all gather to help each other, we reminisce, we indulge in great food, and we laugh; it’s something we all look forward to every week,” Linda says. 

Other ways she helps her community is being part of her local Growing Community which she helped set up during COVID-19 to support neighbours and chairing the Manning Community Association for the past 12 years supporting community, and the City of South Perth’s Safety Group. She also volunteers as a Tour Guide for Kings Park, Rottnest Island, and the City of Perth, as another way to connect with people by sharing experiences and interests.  

“Today, there’s people in my street in their 80s with minimal family contact so I invite them in for a cuppa, we help others with odd jobs, and I’ve been known to even fix a fence or two! Neighbours are always willing to assist us too, so we never feel alone.” 

Southcare Chief Executive Officer Enda Fahy said the sentiment of helping people is what inspired Caring Hands Day on 6 April. 

“We help people every day and this is a good reminder for all of us to think about social isolation and what can be done to reduce it. 

“One in four people aged over 65 live alone and so we are asking everyone to do a good deed for those who are isolated or an act of giving so we can keep connecting with our community as we have done since 1982,” Enda said. 

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