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Houses checking on their neighbours

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Neighbourhood houses have been as busy as ever during the COVID-19 pandemic despite having to  close their doors.

Co-ordinators at both Wallan and Pyalong neighbourhood houses have continued to work and keep an eye on some of the more vulnerable members of the community.

Wallan Neighbourhood House reopened three weeks ago and is starting to resume its essential services.

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Wallan Neighbourhood House co-ordinator Pauline Cornish said she and co-ordinator Tania Smith had been calling occasional care families and checking in with vulnerable people while preparing to reopen.

“Some of the courses will be coming back but we’re not sure which ones yet,” she said.

“The first aid and drug and alcohol courses will be coming back soon because they’re essential services and we ran those right through until we closed.”

Occasional care will also return to Wallan Neighbourhood House from May 26.

“Staff have been in, the place has had a big clean and it’s all ready to go for the kids to come back. We’ve got all the appropriate things to follow the guidelines and bring them back,” Ms Cornish said.

Pyalong Neighbourhood House has also been busy conducting welfare checks on people, some of who have moved into Melbourne’s northern suburbs but remain members.

Pyalong Neighbourhood House president Moira Waye said the house’s two co-ordinators spent their days ringing members who lived on their own or were vulnerable to make sure they were safe and well, and check if they needed any help.

“They were inside working away to make sure people had food and didn’t feel as though they were totally isolated,” she said.

“When we rang, they were very touched because some had family but others didn’t and one fellow lost his sister and he went into hospital with pneumonia, so for us to be there and give them emotional support, he was very grateful.”

The doors remain closed at Pyalong Neighbourhood House with none of its courses or workshops able to go ahead yet, but people are available to receive assistance in photocopying or resume writing during the lockdown if required.

Ms Waye said courses would slowly resume as restrictions were lifted.

“Even though we’re not doing any courses or activities, we’re still there doing our best for the community and that’s what neighbourhood houses are all about,” she said.

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