The Willmot Community Hub draws on a place-based approach to address and remove barriers to inclusion for community members. Activities such as ‘Tuesday Breakfasts’ and the gardening group give local community members, families and children a way to participate in their community in a supportive environment. It also helps foster meaningful connections between residents, countering social isolation.
The power of connection is crucial to Makeeta, who works at the Hub and is a member of the Willmot community. “It’s important because people come here to get involved to feel a part of a community. It’s a safe place. We have never turned anyone away,” she says.
Makeeta is incredibly proud of the weekly Tuesday Breakfast Club she runs at the Hub that, before COVID-19, would host over 70 residents for breakfast, coffee and a chance to interact with each other and strengthen relationships. The club is gradually recovering to that level of attendance as members of the community become more confident about the retreating threat of the pandemic.
Makeeta has also started a regular gardening group with older members of the community. They grow vegetables at the Hub that they share and provide to the local school canteen. She plans to grow more vegetables for the wider community to benefit. “Our main focus would be to take food to the senior complexes in the community, so they have access to fresh food,” says Makeeta.
The Hub strengthens connections by being a part of the community that it serves. This is embodied in the ongoing, reciprocal relationship between Makeeta and Monique Perusco, Manager of Social and Community Services in Western Sydney. “It was the support from Monique saying, ‘you can do this’ and ‘I believe in you’. Even today, I can still sit down with an open heart and have an honest conversation about things,” says Makeeta. Monique has also gained a huge amount from Makeeta. “She influences us every day in how we can be more helpful to the community. We walk together in our work in Willmot.”