Neighbourhood Houses – bringing people together across the country 

Neighbourhood Houses – bringing people together across the country 
Rebecca Smith

Neighbourhood House Week, which took place from May 9 to 15, is a national initiative which celebrates the role of more than 1000 neighbourhood houses in local communities across Australia. Kensington Neighbourhood House is one of 400 in Victoria.  

“We love bringing our community together to celebrate what makes Kensington Neighbourhood House such a special place for so many locals,” manager Rebecca Smith said. “It’s been a tough time with the COVID-19 pandemic, but I am proud of everything we have done to make it a little easier for our community.”

“Last year, Kensington Neighbourhood House provided more than 12,000kg of fresh produce to those who needed it most. We distributed 31,200 food and household items through the McCracken Street Food Share Pantry; delivered 7590 hours of adult education, and made hundreds of wellbeing calls to vulnerable community members, just to have a chat and make sure they were doing okay. It was important to us that no one felt completely isolated during such a difficult time.”

President of the national peak body Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association Nicole Battle said this year’s Neighbourhood House Week theme was about re-emerging and rebuilding a harmonious and resilient community after the lockdowns that saw so many Australians isolated.

“I am so proud to lead such a resilient, responsive and adaptive sector, made up of so many selfless and hardworking individuals,” Ms Battle said. 

“Neighbourhood and community houses and centres have truly demonstrated their weight in gold over the past two-and-a-half years. While so many other services closed during the lockdowns, Victorian neighbourhood houses stepped up. Ninety-six per cent of neighbourhood houses continued to deliver in varying capacities, and 60 per cent ran food relief programs, responding to a significant rise in demand.” 

“Other services our houses provided included childcare, remote adult education, home deliveries, wellbeing calls, letterbox drops, online social gatherings, technology support and device hire. Neighbourhood houses also played a valuable role during the rollout of the vaccine program, creating awareness and combating vaccine hesitancy. Some even hosted pop-up vaccination sites at their premises to make the vaccine more accessible to vulnerable community members.”

“This Neighbourhood House Week we acknowledge this incredible effort and the staff, volunteers and community members who made it all happen.”

“However, now as we begin to re-emerge, we are looking to rebuild those strong social connections that many people lost, building a stronger, more resilient community than ever before.” 

Kensington Neighbourhood House is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Visitors are welcome anytime! •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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