Heart of a Neighbourhood

Words by Rachel Bloem and Rob Cairns

At our local neighbourhood house, the roots into the community run deep and wide; relying on many of our neighbours for support and donations, connecting others who might otherwise be disconnected, and helping yet more of us to feed ourselves and our children when food and clothes are beyond our means. This is where I come for connection and support. They are a wonderful reflection of our caring and connected community. 

These are the evocative words of Rachel Bloem, a neighbour and parent, who has attended events such as family fun days, clothes swaps, and the community lunch, all at Greenhills Neighbourhood House, nestled next to Andrew Yandell Reserve just off St Helena Road.  And they are what motivated me to see for myself.

Listening to Janelle Dunstan (the Coordinator) and playmates (co-workers) including Memo and Steph, I notice what I felt and saw, more than what they said. This is a joyous and welcoming place where people can just be themselves, and are treated with dignity and respect. Paintings on display are among the artefacts made here that say this place is a second home.

However for some that come, all is not happy.  Issues include: mental health conditions, financial stress, family violence, or loneliness and social isolation especially after COVID.  Fortunately Janelle and staff have a strong referral network, where such people can receive assistance, but only if they request it – individual privacy is respected.  One of the services they do provide is food relief.  This is on the up-tick as cost of living expenses rise.  Here supermarkets also pitch in, donating food close to “use by” dates, but still good. The community pantry and facilities rely heavily on donations, and the community steps up, often answering the call out on Greenhills Neighbourhood House’s Facebook page. 

With Occasional Child Care offered, “the community garden gets lots of attention from the kids, fostering an interest in veggies and growing things. “We always make an effort to attend the regular clothes swaps too, keeping things in circulation instead of landfill, and saving money at the same time” says Rachel. 

The new playground and outdoor facilities will be ready for you to check out at any of their free or low cost community events in the next few weeks. Register for their free community lunch on the deck, amongst the trees and bird life of the reserve, or head over to a Crafty Chats Tuesday.

Community members are always welcomed and encouraged to get involved. For the complete range of offerings where all is explained visit: https://www.ghnh.org.au/