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Healthy Tasmania Neighbour Day Challenge 2020 project updates

Two children write the word friends in chalk and draw fruit people in chalk messages on a foot path at Mt Nelson.

Find out how last year’s Neighbour Day grant recipients have been addressing loneliness and creating social connections in their communities.

Neighbour Day 2021 was held on 28 March. Information about who received funding for this year’s Neighbour Day Challenge will be available here soon.

Railton Neighbourhood Centre

Railton Neighbourhood Centre used their Neighbour Day grant to purchase a new barbecue, allowing them to bring people together to share a meal at more community functions. They also purchased and installed a new irrigation system for their community garden to help grow fresh produce to share with the people in their community.

Great Lake Community Centre

The sounds of bluegrass music can be heard coming from Great Lake Community Centre on Saturday mornings. The community centre used its Neighbour Day grant to purchase musical instruments to loan to locals interested in starting and joining a bluegrass group.

The purchase of a guitar, banjos, percussion instruments and ukuleles has allowed beginners of all ages to try new instruments, learn a new skill and make friends through participation in the group.

Despite the challenge of COVID-19 people were able to practise at home and connect via phone and social media.

The bluegrass group has encouraged over 50 musicians, and there is now a dedicated beginners group meeting regularly. Many of the musicians are from the Central Highlands and find music a great way to connect with people, reduce isolation and form friendships.

Mount Nelson Sculpture Trail

During the COVID-19 lockdown last year, the Mt Nelson community was inspired to create local sculpture trails, encouraging activity, walking, mindfulness, creativity and connection.

Through the Mt Nelson community Facebook page, designer Helen Latham ran local promotions, organised events and shared photos of sculptures. She created incentives and prizes to promote the trail, such as making sculptures from found items and ANZAC day poppy flower sculptures.

For Mother’s Day, chalk was given out and dropped in letterboxes around Mt Nelson, encouraging people to create chalk drawings, flower wreaths or sculptures to share for the mums that couldn’t be visited over lockdown.

Other initiatives included 'Find the mozzie’. Helen explained that “Things were a bit annoying, a bit like a mozzie, so we put a sculpture of a mozzie at a location and asked people to photograph and send it in, the first group to find it won a prize.”

One family was inspired to make tiny sculptures from pinecones and added a sign ‘take one home’ as part of their sculpture contribution.

Another chalk activity involved asking people to create welcoming and happy messages for the return to school of the primary students after lockdown, as many were anxious about returning to school. Local families joined in and created some great messages for returning students.

As connections grow in the community, sparked by the sculpture trail, more initiatives have started, such as a local craft group of people who were contributors to the sculpture trail.

As restrictions eased, ‘Winter Wanderings’ was promoted, encouraging the idea of walking outside in winter with lanterns. A group took this idea and made it their own by starting a lantern walk and inviting local kids and families. Children made their own lanterns and had a little wander through the bush and they now hope to make this an annual event.

Rural Health Tasmania and Wedge St Community House working together to create connections in Circular Head

Wedge St Community House Facilitator Glenda was busy during COVID-19 lockdown making activity packs to keep people in her community engaged and connected. Glenda and her team, with support from Rural Health Tasmania, delivered activity packs and had socially distanced chats with isolated members of the Circular Head commuinity during lockdown. Through their ‘Embracing Communities’ program, they encouraged people to participate through weekly craft and activity packs and ideas shared on their Facebook page.

One resident said the activity pack drop-off “made their day”.  One recipient shared: “[I am] thankful for the craft packs that Glenda has delivered to my house. I want to personally thank Rural Health for checking to see that I am okay. [My family] sees how much of a difference that these kits and social involvement have made [and made] me engage and keep me active.”

The community house provided a platform for people to share their creativity, feel connected in a time of isolation and a place to donate time and ideas to support the local community. People responded positively to chalk driveway messages that were left for them.

A local parent shared, “It has been a great outlet for Maja and Toby to learn new things, meet people and in general grow, so a link with [the community house] over this period is a great asset to our community”.

A participant said, “The Wedge St Community House activities at home in the COVID-19 crisis is vital for my mental health. I have suffered PTSD before in my life and I also have COPD and have had open heart surgery in the last three years. My mental health is the key to keep me going in the community and the Wedge St Community House provides activities that help me overcome all these things. I love sharing my ideas and working with the participants.”

People who participated during lockdown have now become involved in the community house and face to face workshops.

Dolphin Sands Rate Payers Association

Dolphin Sands residents now have more places to sit and connect, thanks to their Neighbour Day grant which they have used to purchase new seating for the local area. The Glamorgan Spring Bay Council is supporting the project through installation of the picnic tables.

Northern Suburbs Community Centre – Mowbray Garden Group

Mowbray Northern Suburbs Community Centre (NSCC) reinvigorated their community garden program following the closure of the centre during COVID-19 last year. They used their Neighbour Day grant money to help resource the community garden group, recommence the craft group and establish a painting group and internet support group called the Beehive.

Mowbray NSCC have started a Garden Blitz group, with new members joining and being responsible for specific garden bed planting and maintenance. They supply garden produce to the Invermay Coop, who appreciate and share the food with the community. The painting group create individual pieces of art, of which many have been used to display in the centre. The Beehive has proven popular, supporting people to learn essential skills to operate their phones and computers and will continue to operate through volunteers.

Newnham Café Chat: Time to listen, share and connect

Newnham Northern Suburbs Community Centre (NSCC) worked hard to reconnect people when the centre re-opened after COVID-19 shutdown. They created Café Chat, which enabled a small group of changing people to connect through conversation over morning tea each week. As restrictions further eased, this was changed to a fortnightly barbeque, held outside as larger numbers were able to attend.

These gatherings helped to develop new friendships across the diverse range of attendees, including Tas TAFE students who developed friendships and connections with older community members. It was also an opportunity for a volunteer to develop their skills and take over the weekly event coordination. Many of the participants have become involved in the Tuesday Club, which provides social connection over craft activities.