(Painting by Irena Dobrijevich)
Neighbourhood Matters, in partnership with Sydney Alliance, organised a meeting at the Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre last year, joined by other locals and community representatives. We wanted to discern opportunities for involvement in the community and what are some community needs we could engage with. We decided to follow up the meeting with deep listening in our community, asking questions like:
“What are the needs already being met?”
“Whose voice is not being heard?”
“What partnerships are already happening?”
“What can we join in with rather than starting anything new?”
We didn’t want to “fix” anything in our community but rather work alongside those who are vulnerable or on the margins.
Due to Covid lockdowns, our plans were put on hold. But last week we had an online meeting to think about how we can support the work of Apaula Sami Community Development Officer based at the Northcott public housing estate. At the meeting were representatives from the Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre, The Salvation Army, Mission Australia, Counterpoint, St Peter’s Catholic parish, Belvoir Street Theatre and OzHarvest, as well as a local resident who is involved in a number of LGBTIQ+ and multicultural organisations. Armen co-facilitated the meeting with friend and local artist Astra Howard, who is now the Senior Homelessness Project Coordinator at the City of Sydney.
We spent some time hearing about what each organisation and individual is doing in the community and mapping the existing initiatives and gaps. For instance, there are a lot of food providers in the area so there is overlap with food being provided at the same time, which leads to much food wastage. It also means that some places miss out.
We shared ideas and made connections. It was wonderful to be a part of something greater together! Practical outcomes included a couple of possible new programs at Northcott and another meeting in a month to track progress and plan further collaboration.
We believe that, when we pool our resources together and share information, we can achieve more than if we work in silos. That’s especially true in the community development sector.
Neighbourhood Matters is pleased that this first meeting went so well and we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds as we continue to work together in our neighbourhood!