As we look for ways to improve ourselves coming into the new year, feeling connected, having a sense of community, and social acceptance can provide significant benefits to our emotional well-being. According to VicHealth, studies show that social isolation can lead to severe health risks and is best overcome by connection with community. Community engagement can lead to a sense of belonging and improve mental health. Through a number of City of Boroondara facilities in and around Glenferrie Hawthorn, there are a range of ways for everyone and anyone – from children, to teenagers, new parents, adults, or retirees – to connect with their local community in 2020.
Kate Clampett, Hawthorn Community House.
A Place for Everyone
The Hawthorn Community House is our local community centre nestled in Central Gardens at 32 Henry Street. Kate Clampette, Senior Manager of Community at Access Health and Community Hawthorn, oversees the Hawthorn Community House which she says "operates for absolutely everybody in the community”.
The neighbourhood house is supported by the City of Boroondara, who provide some funding and the building itself as a part of their commitment to "community connections through the grassroots approach, establishing those local networks," said Kate.
The Hawthorn Community House offers a "welcoming, inclusive space" which is "in the business of helping people to stay well, stay connected, and stay engaged". Kate believes neighbourhood houses are a great reflection of the diversity within the community and, as such, they offer a wide range of programs, events, and services that are both social and skill building for all demographics. These include childcare services, short courses, skill classes, workshops, social events, exercise classes, and support groups. All events and sessions are run by employed tutors and volunteers, who also host drop-in lunches on Wednesdays for people without access to food.
Kate describes the community centre not in terms of what it gives to the community, but as a space which enables and supports the community itself. It is a place where "people can be empowered to do things" and "to feel good about themselves, to be connected, to feel like they have friends," said Kate. Find out what is on at the Hawthorn Community House by heading to hch.org.au or calling (03) 9819 2629.
Staff at the 360 Youth Resource Centre. Front, left to right: Ben, Caroline, Wendy, Toula. Back: Vanessa.
For the Local Youth
For school children, the Hawthorn Library runs the ‘Make it! After School Club’ on Monday afternoons, offering a range of creative and educational activities for children to have fun and make friends under the supervision of their carers.
On the second floor of the Hawthorn Arts Centre, the recently refurbished 360 Youth Resource Centre offers a space for people between 10 and 25 years of age who live, study, or spend time in Boroondara. The centre is open 12pm-6pm from Monday to Friday and 10am-6pm during the school holidays for local youth to come and hang out to use the table tennis tables, gaming consoles, computers, study space, or talk to the children and youth support team. They also offer creative events, resume building and employment assistance, a band rehearsal room, and various activities and workshops. They organise educational programs and one-to-one support for issues such as alcohol and drug problems, housing and homelessness, mental health, and family violence. 360 Youth Services (9278 4608) is there to “empower children, young people and their families to reach their full potential and contribute to a strong community” (City of Boroondara).
Support For Parents
The Boroondara Maternal and Child Health (MCH) service contacts parents within days of returning home with their infant. The service offers developmental checks as well as connecting new parents with their local MCH centre - our local centre is at 584 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn (9835 7851). Through the MCH centre, new parents can access playgroups and support groups for first-time parents or those experiencing postnatal depression. These initiatives are there to ensure that families in the community are supported wholly - not just through looking after children's health, but also by maintaining the social and mental well-being of our local parents.
The City of Boroondara also offers playgroups and regular ‘Sing Baby Sing’ and story time sessions for a range of children’s ages at the Hawthorn Library. This is a great opportunity for young children to learn through music, stories, and socialisation, as well as connecting parents within the local community who might some- times feel socially isolated with the full-time job of childcare. You can find more information about session times and services for new parents on the Boroondara website.
Men's Mental Health
The Hawthorn Men's Shed at 93-95 Elgin Street is one of four Men's Sheds in Boorondara. The Hawthorn facility is a purpose-built, fully-equipped woodworking workshop. The Men's Shed sees a range of men come through the doors, from first-time craftsmen to retired trade professionals and teachers. The majority of attendees are retired, and supervisor David Mee believes the shed "gives them a place to come to do something, meet other guys, swap life experiences, and share skills. That social inclusion is the key thing, and skill improve- ment". David sees a real culture of encouraging men to have open discussions about their health and be proactive about their well-being. If you are registered with ‘My Aged Care’, it only costs $5 to visit the shed. You can get in touch by calling 9815 0155.
Judy Toma, President of the Peppercorn Club.
Socialisation for Seniors
According to the 2016 census, 60+ year olds made up 42% of all Boorondara residents. The Peppercorn Club, Hawthorn's resident senior citizen's club, is a “community group for social inclusion”, says President Judy Toma, which brings together regular individual attendees, groups from nursing homes, as well as all-age groups of people with physical and mental handicaps. Some have been attending the club, originally called the ‘Over 60s Club’, for fifty years.
The club meets each Wednesday at the Hawthorn Library, where volunteers serve morning tea and host live entertainment, bingo, and activities as well as take attendees for outings to lunch, the cinema, and even concerts. President of 15 years, Judy, said she likes to “vary the program”.
The City of Boroondara provides the club with Hawthorn Library’s meeting rooms for their weekly sessions, a liaison from Aged Care Services, and a community bus to pick up participants who do not drive.
For Judy, the Peppercorn Club is about providing the opportunity for enjoyment and socialisation. “If someone can have somewhere to go, meet friends, have a meal... I don’t think you can beat it”. Contact Judy on 0400 976 027 or get in touch with Boroondara Aged Care services by calling 9278 4777.
When 1 in 3 Australian adults are not involved in any social or community groups (headtohealth.gov.au), Glenferrie Hawthorn offers so many ways for members of the local community to reap the benefits of social and recreational activities for a thriving, happy population. If you are not already engaged in the community, make 2020 your year.