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Ballarat house building neighbourly connections

Ballarat house building neighbourly connections

Ballarat house building neighbourly connections

31 March 2017

Leading Senior Constable Janine Walker with 90-year-old Ballarat North resident Carmel Morgan-Wall at the Salvation Army Neighbourhood House. Picture courtesy of The Courier, Ballarat. Photo: Brendan Wrigley.

By Jessica Morris

The Salvation Army North Ballarat Neighbourhood House is living out the mission and vision of the Army by extending a welcoming hand to neighbours.

Celebrating National Neighbour Day last week, the community house, which has been part of The Salvation Army network of services in the region for nearly three decades, was used to encourage locals to connect with each other over festivities.

“Being a Neighbourhood House, it’s really important we [celebrate] neighbour day because a lot of people are isolated or living on their own,” says House Coordinator Alison Demuth. “We feel that it’s really important they come and meet other people.”

Focusing on the themes of art, culture and history, the house was used to partner with other local organisations. This year was their second annual event, which saw nearly 50 locals engage over a barbeque and music by the Ballarat Ukulele Group. Guests were joined by representatives of the Ballarat Cemetery and Victoria Police who mingled with guests and affirmed the importance of knowing your neighbours.

“Neighbours are the best neighbourhood watch program ever, because neighbourhood watch happens naturally when you get to know each other,” Leading Senior Constable Janine Walker told the Ballarat Courier.

The Neighbourhood House is connected to Salvo Connect West services and reaches out to the local community through a variety of classes and groups, including technology, art and horticultural activities. Each activity is designed to give locals lifelong learning opportunities as well as a social network while they develop skills and confidence.

Alison says that these activities allow the Neighbourhood House to foster the core values of The Salvation Army’s new mission statement on a ground level.
 
“Caring for people, we do that. We create pathways all the time in education and fostering relationships, [so] building a healthy community is what we’re all about,” she says. “We want to make sure everyone is safe and heard – our groups have to be inclusive.”

Neighbour Day has been celebrated across Australia since 2003 and is used to connect members of the community, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, with their neighbours.

Next year, Ballarat North Neighbourhood House is highlighting the theme of history. They are planning a community picnic – at the local Ballarat Cemetery. And it’s all in the name of community connection.

“Neighbourhood houses give people a voice,” says Alison. “The only way to have healthy community is to have healthy connection.”

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