Over the past few years, first with COVID and now with the flood, West End Community House (WECH) has been a constant source of support and nourishment for people in our community.
Over the past few weeks and in weeks to come, WECH and Yeronga Community Centre, both part of Community Plus, have been our local Community Recovery Hubs. Each day, including on weekends, staff from Community Recovery QLD, Department of Housing, Services Australia, The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and Lifeline are available at the House to assist people applying for flood-related payments. Community Plus QSTARS Tenancy Advice Services are also available and Micah Projects, housing and tenancy advice staff have also offered assistance.
If you need help with any of these things, drop in – all you need is to bring some identification with you.
WECH has averaged 70 to 80 people a day during the week, though it is a little quieter on the weekends. The Yeronga Community Hub is averaging around 120 a day during the week.
Kylie Dean, Community Development Worker at WECH, says they are trying to ensure a smooth transition for people impacted by the flood. She said they are seeing people who have never accessed the service before: international students and people from the apartments along the river, some of whom have been without power for some weeks.
Regular programs continue.
With all this added work, you might think that regular programs will have to take a pause. Still, staff and regulars have ensured that important social connection activities continue as usual – the Thursday Breakfasts, the wonderful music from the Whoopee-do Crew, and the WECH Art Gang, all continue to meet and support one another.
West End Community House has a long history.
WECH was established in 1983 in response to the displacement of people during Expo under the auspice of West End Uniting Church and is now part of Community Plus+. It also operates the Kurilpa Kiosk at People’s Park in Boundary Street.
Back in 2014, when I spoke with former manager Joe Hurley, he described WECH as a gateway to support.
“A place of comfort and support, a place of opportunity… and something that contributes positively to people’s lives and outcomes, no matter what circumstances they might be in.”
When you drop into WECH, you immediately sense what Joe was talking about: it is a place of comfort and support. It is also a place of safety. The energy and positivity of the staff, Kyle, Mel, Andrew, Kirstin and Des and others, rubs off. Spending time at the House as a volunteer leaves you feeling hopeful.
Donations and volunteers are always welcome!
Kylie told me that none of this would be possible if we didn’t have a supportive community.
There are a lot of different ways to help. You can volunteer at the House. You can share meals you prepare at the House or package up meals or sandwiches you make at home. You can donate canned and packaged foods.
WECH could also do with donations of new underwear, new socks, thongs (not used), toiletries and sanitary items.
You can also provide a financial donation – see details HERE.
Become a member.
Ms Enoch said community recovery hubs are central to our ability to recover from a disaster, and neighbourhood community centres are part of that recovery.
“It is not just about this period of time, but it’s about what happens after we’ve recovered, after we put things back in place, and life goes back to a little bit of normalcy. It’s neighbourhood centres that will continue to pick up the threads to support people.”
“For some people, this is the second or third time they’ve seen floods in their houses or some kind of damage, and for a lot of people, the resilience tank is pretty low. And so it’s neighbourhood and community centres like this place, that are able to fill the tank back up again, through the various activities they do, and that will be needed well beyond the recovery period.”
Mel Hilditch, the manager of Community Plus, reminds us that it is a community based, community-owned membership-based organisation.
“Please join us by signing up as a member. Local communities are strengthened by the health of our on the ground neighborhood centres- we are the first and last to respond in disaster -we build resilience in place.
You can join at the link below:
In November 2019, West End Community House achieved 30 years of service from its Norfolk Road centre. Current and past workers, community members, and service users told us why there is a good reason to celebrate.
Listen to their stories here:
Cover image – Image: Jane Holden (Deputy President at WECH), committee member Marilyn Trad, Minister Enoch, Kylie Dean and Mel Hilditch (WECH staff). Other images provided.