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Op-ed: Real Action is happening in the community

Wednesday 18 May 2022, The Examiner

‘A week is a long time in politics’. Truer words never said. Attributed to former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and likely said first at the time of the UK sterling crisis in 1964, however it is recorded in 1886 as having been said by British politician Joseph Chamberlain saying “In politics, there is no use in looking beyond the next fortnight”. How true that is with the changes to our Parliament of late such as change of members and ministries, and proroguing of Parliament.

With the election almost upon us, who isn’t tired of hearing and watching countless political advertisements of all colours, on radio and television criticising their opposing parties. I have to laugh at my husband Bruce, as every night without fail, he bemoans the fact that there are so many political advertisements, and says he can’t understand why there isn’t at least a two week black out on them. Sadly for Bruce it is only three days, but I often suggest he could turn off the television or radio.

While elections are taking up lots of air time, there are many other events occurring that don’t necessarily attract the same attention. Last week I attended a candlelight vigil in Civic Square against homelessness and it was great to see so many people turn up in support, including the Strike it Out food van. Apart from providing free food to the homeless, for a couple of dollars, they gave those attending a taste of what they provide and I can attest it was good. Without this team of generous people, giving up a lot of time to source, cook and deliver these meals and food parcels, many suffering in our community would simply not survive.

Earlier in the week I attended the launch of the Salvation Army Red Shield appeal, and again it was great to see the work they do in our community, especially for those in need. Much of what they do goes unnoticed, particularly late at night when many of us are tucked up in a warm bed. Street team volunteers sign up for Saturday night shifts in Launceston City between 10.45 pm and 3 am with the aim of keeping people safe. I am looking forward to signing up and going out with them occasionally to find out what really happens late at night in our city and do what I can to help. If you want to be part of it, I can put you in touch.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. I was very pleased to visit the delightful Ralda Freiboth, better known as Topsy, who celebrated her 101st birthday in early May. Topsy still lives in her own home, and loves a chat. Her home is filled with many of her treasures given to her over the years, particularly her collection of swans, small and large, vases and ornaments. She tells me her walking isn’t quite what it used to be, but her mind is sharp as a tack and she manages to get around well on her walker.

I also decided to do an exercise class at the YMCA to get a better understanding of their situation and speak with participants. I was amazed at the number of people who turn out weekly to keep fit. The instructor Kate was fabulous and tried to teach me how to use a hula hoop, without much success. The class members said they care deeply for Kate and love their classes, and one lady, 90 years old, told me that these exercises every week had kept her fit and healthy. Whatever happens I feel confident these classes or similar, will continue as they are well used and much needed. Preventative health measures are so important in promoting wellness and preventing disease, particularly as we get older. My mother always told me “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. I am not sure I will ever be able to use a hula hoop, but there are lots of other exercises I can and should do.

Another wonderful experience of last week was turning up to the Norwood/Newstead Playgroup at St Catherine’s Hall. There were lots of children and two ponies including a cart. The absolute joy on the faces of the children was beautiful to see and they had an amazing time.

If you are looking for something worthwhile to do, there are some great organisations to volunteer with as well as making new friends. If you want some help or suggestions, give me a call.

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