Aiming to empower others
SOMETHING as simple as coffee, cake and conversation can often make all the difference in the world, says Wednesdays at Wandana co- ordinator Julie Dickinson.
The 78-year-old semi-retired social worker started the weekly community inclusion program at Subiaco’s largest social housing complex Wandana Flats about 18 months ago.
“I believe people who are isolated and marginalised are sad and at risk,” Ms Dickinson said.
“There are a huge number of social problems here — drugs and alcohol, mental health, illiteracy, disabilities and safety issues.
“This group is a very simple way of getting people to come out of their rooms and interact with each other, which is not always successful or easy.”
Ms Dickinson is one of nine finalists in the 2015 Seasons Community Champions Award.
The City of Subiaco nominated her saying she helped break down the barriers of isolation many vulnerable and disadvan- taged residents at the Homeswest-owned flats experienced.
“Even on days when no one has turned up or at times when she has faced suspicion and disapproval, she has not been defeated but instead come back each week slowly building trust,” her award nomination said.
“Through her voluntary work, the housing complex is a safer and more welcoming place. The value of this is immeasurable.”
With the recent recruitment of a second volunteer and finan- cial support from the city, Ms Dickinson said she hoped her program would continue to grow.
“In the future I would like to build a little bit more social action so Wandana will not be forgotten,” she said.
“We hear the most amazing and actually quite inspirational stories from people who come to our morning tea.
“I want to empower these residents in a good, hopeful way and not let this place get absorbed and taken over. All it takes is just keeping your eyes open and look out for people.”