In 2017 a small group of East Melbourne neighbours felt a need to band together for support, and started meeting for coffee each month to get to know one another.
Word soon spread and more residents got involved, with all of them sharing a desire for enhanced social wellbeing and community connection.
The group is now the incorporated East Melbourne Neighbour Network (EMNN), which focuses on promoting a spirit of neighbourliness and friendly mutual support.
After the pandemic began, the network became even more essential in reducing social isolation.
‘Our health and wellbeing were impacted as people retreated to apartments, home offices and local parks. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of having our local network to help connect community members and assist with social isolation and mental health.’
During lockdowns, the EMNN delivered a COVID-19 direct care volunteer program by ‘buddying’ a younger resident with an older resident for regular contact and practical assistance.
It also established an online group called East Melbourne Connect, to enable members to share local news and activities, hints, tips and recipes.
The program changes each term and is driven by community interest and demand.
‘We always focus on providing activities that educate, increase social interaction and improve health and wellbeing,’ said Shelley.
All EMNN activities are held at Powlett Reserve Community Room, which was recently refurbished by the City of Melbourne to provide a safer and more welcoming communal space.
Residents who want to get to know their neighbours can attend the network’s monthly social get-together, or the popular monthly morning teas, which feature a guest speaker.
Past guest speakers have included:
- psychologist and world authority on autism, Dr Laurie Bartak
- architect and expert in heritage restoration, Arthur Andronas
- East Melbourne residents, Roger Smith and Graham Ryles, who presented on ‘The Lanes of East Melbourne’
- Professor Marita McCabe, from Swinburne University’s Health and Ageing Research Group
The EMNN is keen to hear from the East Melbourne community, to ensure their activities are engaging, fun and meaningful for all age groups.
‘We want to reach out to families, younger and single residents in the area and tap into their needs, interests and creative desires,’ said Ann-Maree Eckersley, EMNN Secretary.
To get a copy of the current health and wellbeing program or submit your ideas, email Susan or Ann Maree at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music lovers wanted
Residents are invited to join the new inclusive community choir, which is open to anyone who loves singing.
The un-auditioned, mixed-voice choir will create an eclectic repertoire of music including musicals, pop, folk and classical.
‘The aim is to create an environment where residents of all ages can connect over a shared love of music, and enjoy a greater sense of community belonging,’ says Ann-Maree.
‘Research has shown that singing in a choir can strengthen feelings of togetherness, reduce stress levels and regulate heart rate, and improve feelings of social wellbeing.’
‘We are currently seeking a musical director to lead the choir and would also love to hear from any community members willing to get involved in the planning.’
If you’d like to get involved in the choir, email email@example.com.