Cultures, community and inclusivity were embraced at Thomastown Neighbourhood House’s Promisetown Picnic on Saturday as part its celebrations for Neighbourhood House Week. ​

NEIGHBOURHOOD houses in the City of Whittlesea last week celebrated Neighbourhood House Week, with an array of activities encouraging the community to participate.

Thomastown Neighbourhood House, TNH, hosted the Promisetown Picnic and Markets on Saturday, an event to celebrate Neighbourhood House Week.

The market featured local makers selling crafts and treasures, kids craft activities, local entertainers, Vietnamese dancers and a drumming workshop. 

Thomastown West Primary School students performed an 1980s flash mob dance and Thomastown Primary added to the festivities with a ‘Firefly Street Theatre’ parade.

TNH manager Liz Skitch said the Promisetown Picnic was an example of how neighbourhood houses united the community.

“The Promisetown Picnic is a great example of the power of neighbourhood houses to connect with their local community and to create opportunities for young and old, from so many different cultures, to gather, connect and build social networks,” she said.  

“Neighbourhood houses are small organisations that have the ability to respond to the changing needs of their communities. Groups like this help to overcome loneliness, build confidence, process past experiences and build hope for the future.  

“Neighbourhood houses also offer valuable opportunities to build skills through volunteering. Our team of volunteers at TNH run the coffee cart at the library, support the weekly activities such as playgroup and meditation class and practise community development through working on the community events team.”

Whittlesea Community House, WCH, celebrated with its usual activities as well as special handouts to commemorate the week.
Activities included choir singing, gardening, producing a community cooked lamb roast meal at Big Blokes Brunch for the 24 men in attendance, welcoming students to the new digital animation class, walking group and the ‘Catering for Community’ course where students cooked homemade pasta and gnocchi for the women’s community lunch.

WCH manager Mary-Lynn Griffith said the week was successful.

“We [celebrated] Neighbourhood House Week 2022 with the participation of around 200 community members last week … and it was a very happy Neighbourhood House Week,” she said.

“Neighbourhood houses are awesome because they are made up of community members and are able to respond to community need as it arises, such as helping out with emergency relief when Food Share was closed, providing volunteer and student placement opportunities, and embarking on new projects as needs arise.”

Lalor Living and Learning Centre, LLLC, assisted the TNH at the Promisetown Picnic, and also ran its regular classes for its community.
LLLC manager Meredith Budge said it was the commitment from volunteers, who would also be recognised during National Volunteer Week, that allowed for the success of community centres.

She said volunteers were important for all activities at LLLC but there were particular classes the centre promoted through Neighbourhood House Week where volunteer help was crucial.

“We have a wonderful group that meet on Mondays that is run by volunteers, bringing together older Italian community members,” she said.

“This incredibly dynamic group have just started meeting here at the centre and they are planning to share their knowledge and skills in food preservation, fermentation and pickling.

“We also have really popular English language classes suited to a range of levels and abilities and computer classes for beginners and for intermediate skills, including a digital access course that focuses on learning how to navigate online forms.”

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