Coming together

• Dave and Annabelle Page, Shani Graham and Fiona Wheeler. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

WHILE the mainstream media focuses on punch-ups over toilet paper, communities are coming together to help each other during the pandemic.

The Fremantle council initiative Neighbour to Neighbour: helping each other in a time of crisis, saw hundreds of volunteers sign up in the first week.

“We are now matching them up with older or vulnerable people in our community,” mayor Brad Pettitt said.

“The necessary physical isolation doesn’t need to lead to people being feeling socially isolated and disconnected from their communities.

“If we get this right, Fremantle can come out of this crisis an even stronger and better-connected community.”

Not all the support groups have been formed because of the pandemic: the West Beacy Bunch started more than a year ago to foster community spirit in Beaconsfield, and now has about 350 households on-board, coordinator Shani Graham says.

Before the coronavirus, residents got together once a month to have picnics, movie and dinner nights or pick olives.

The group’s well-established lines of communication meant they could react quickly to the virus and help neighbours with tasks like grocery shopping and walking the dog. Or in some cases just phoning to see if they’re okay.

The WBB is also sourcing supplies to make hand sanitiser and face masks.

Kids haven’t been forgotten with Ms Graham and local artist/performer Sandy McKendrick doing online storytelling sessions.

And locals are being urged to place a teddy bear in their front windows.

“I put three bears in the window,” says youngster Annabelle Page, while waving her bear for a photo.

It offers a reassuring “spot the bear” activity for kids, says Ms Graham, a former school principal.

To sign up for Neighbour to Neighbour go to fremantle.wa.gov.au/neighbour-neighbour-helping-each-other-time-crisis

by JENNY D’ANGER

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