huge yellow smiley face spanning 2.5m and shining brightly from the 8m high second-storey window at not-for-profit Southcare Inc in Manning is reminding us all to ask the important question: “R U OK?”. 

The friendly face can be seen radiating along Manning Road and Welwyn Avenue and has been installed to demonstrate the importance of community connectedness.  

Southcare CEO Dr Nicky Howe said there has never been a better time to talk to each other and not be afraid to ask difficult questions about our collective wellbeing. 

“R U OK Day is universally acknowledged on September 10, but in a time when social isolation is rampant, it is really a question that needs to be asked daily,” Dr Howe said. 

“A lack of connection or a lack of belonging is what we want to prevent and community connectedness is a proven way to do that. 

“We ask our customers every day if they are OK as they invite us into their homes or when they visit our Manning offices for financial advice, shopping or clothing support via our community emergency relief services. 

“When we visit people’s homes, we clean, do the dishes, make beds, prepare meals, medications, help with laundry and all the necessary day-to-day tasks but what our customers tell us they love and remember the most is the social connection. 

“Stories are shared over cups of tea, trips are enjoyed to the shops; it is the companionship that is offered to our customers through this selfless work that is helping them live independently and provide a much needed social check-in,” Dr Howe said 

Southcare’s office window previously had a colourful rainbow made with 246 paper hearts with a “protect and connect” message which was created in April for the local rainbow trail during Perth’s COVID-19 restrictions. 

“While our COVID-19 situation in WA doesn’t compare to what is happening on the East Coast or the rest of the world, we have all had a taste of social isolation and how devastating that can be,” Dr Howe said. 

“The reality is that despite COVID-19, there are senior members in our community that don’t leave their homes, don’t talk to people and don’t see people for extended periods of time. 

“Many talk about COVID-19 being the current killer but the reality is that social isolation is a silent killer that unfortunately has been happening for much longer,” Dr Howe said 

Southcare is urging the local community to take inspiration from its smiling face to connect with others knowing that right now, a conversation could change and save a life. 

Dr Howe said six simple conversation starters to use when you check in on your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours could be: 

  • “What’s been happening?”  
  • “I am listening.” 
  • “I am here if you want to talk.” 
  • “Tell me something new?” 
  • How are you really? 
  • “Let’s chat again next week” 

The theme for RU OK Day this year is “there’s more to say”. 

“2020 has been a challenging year for many and unprecedented circumstances have made it even more important for us all to stay connected.  By all means ask the question and use the conversation starters on 10 September but because there is more to say, let’s make every day R U OK Day,” Dr Howe said. 

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