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Virtual afternoon tea set to bring community together

11 May, 2020

Felltimber Community Centre will host a virtual afternoon tea on Friday, May 15 to help bring the community together while celebrating Neighbourhood House Week.

Last year the centre held the inaugural Felltimber Expo which saw more than 100 people come together to learn about the centre and other services in the area.

Before that, the centre celebrated through various social gatherings such as morning teas.

"This year things are a little different but we are reaching out by celebrating online and sharing many of our past events and highlights," Felltimber Community Centre co-ordinator Amanda Crisp said.

"We also invite community members to our virtual morning tea to be held on Friday from 2.30pm."

Neighbourhood House Week, which runs from May 8 to 15, is the national celebration of neighbourhood houses and community centres, providing the opportunity for each house and their community to reflect and celebrate all the great things they have achieved.

The theme this year is 'Loneliness: The solution is community'.

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria Chief Executive Nicole Battle said while this year’s Neighbourhood House Week theme was decided long before COVID-19, it was relevant more than ever during this period of self-isolation as many Victorians will be experiencing a heightened sense of loneliness, isolation and anxiety.

Loneliness is an emerging health issue with one in four Australians identifying as lonely, which negatively affects their health and wellbeing.

An effective way to reduce loneliness is to connect people to their community.

Neighbourhood Houses and community centres do this by providing opportunities to connect, allowing friendships to be made, and building a sense of belonging and purpose for their community members.

"During the past couple of months, Neighbourhood Houses have been at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic, continuing to uplift their communities through the delivery of essential services such as food relief, meal support, childcare, adult education, and providing key government services," Ms Battle said.

"They have had to come up with new and creative ways to keep community members connected – so many have moved storytimes, exercise classes, music classes and adult education courses online.

"For those who aren’t digitally connected, calls and letter drops are occurring to ensure the most vulnerable in our communities aren’t left behind."

Ms Battle said through their sheer existence, Neighbourhood Houses battle loneliness and social isolation every day by offering a safe and inclusive space for people to reach out for company, support and a sense of belonging.

"201,000 Victorians visit a Neighbourhood House in an average week," she said.

"We know that despite the many reasons that may have bought them there, each and every one of them benefits from an increased sense of community connection and solidarity – that’s what makes our sector so special.

"Some houses are even gathering volunteers to sew scrubs for local health care workers.

"The generosity of this sector, it’s staff and volunteers, knows no bounds.

"That’s why now more than ever, their hard work and dedication must be recognised and celebrated – and never taken for granted."