Local friends was started by Dr Sheila Twine who says “ We all know that many older people are living alone. Our governments are keen for people to ‘age in place’ and most of us want to stay in our own homes for as long as possible. While this is a good policy, it has a down side of loneliness and isolation.
‘As we reach our 80s and 90s, we experience the sadness of friends passing away. Some people have relatives spread around the globe, but no close family. Even if family members are ‘simply down the track’ in Busselton for example, travel may be difficult for those who aren’t able to drive any more. This all makes for a ‘disconnect’ with families and indeed, the community.”
With the setting up of Local Friends, Sheila has also honoured the ethos of the late David Smeeton. David, a Director of Palliative Care WA, had been very keen to start a voluntary organisation in the local area encouraging people to become involved in a ‘compassionate community. Sadly, David died before he was able to fulfill his ambition and it was at his funeral in January 2020 that Sheila publicly pledged to make it happen.
Local Friends was officially launched by Mandurah Mayor, Rhys Williams, on 29 March 2021 and was incorporated on 15 June 2021.