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StreetSmart Supports Inclusion, Connection and Opportunity

(Photo: First Hike Project)

Research, and our own lived experiences, tell us that more frequent social contact is associated with higher life satisfaction and better, overall health and wellbeing outcomes. Conversely, social isolation and loneliness can have significant, negative impacts for many people’s health and wellbeing. In May, as part of our Collective initiative we partnered with a local philanthropic Foundation to support 8 social inclusion programs across Metro Melbourne.

The hardships suffered through COVID-19 have not affected all groups equally, and groups such as young people, migrants, those in casual or unstable work, without accumulated assets and strong personal or professional networks, have been particularly vulnerable. These groups are also not always comfortable seeking support directly from services. Rob Rees, Cultivating Community, shared that; “Fear of connection is a real anxiety within our client groups. There still remains much confusion amongst our clients about Covid 19. They are unsure about safe spaces, rules and regulations. Many community spaces in public and social housing are still shut with no access (yet nobody is telling that story).”  

Face-to-face support programs run by community-based organisations can often make the most significant difference for these marginalised groups. These programs are often run by smaller organisations, reliant on volunteers, responding to local community needs, with limited budgets. As Neil McCulloch at First Hike Project told us:

“…this grant is an amazing windfall for our organisation and we thank you in complete surprise! Small organisations like ours run on such little available administration time and funds so even a relatively small grant such as this one really does make a huge difference. With all of our costs increasing year on year it is so wonderful to receive this grant from you guys… we look forward to being able to share this with as many newly arrived youth from refugee backgrounds as possible.”

“We have had a significant revenue decrease since 2022, as we have not been able to run our main charity shootout which raises $100K per year. This grant is at the right time to help us provide more sessions in the Sunshine & Footscray LGA's on a weekly basis, to re-engage our young people through weekly participation-based basketball sessions. We will also involve the parents by having family gatherings to increase social cohesion. When these children and young people become disengaged and bored, they are at greater risk of becoming involved in petty crime and ending up in youth detention.”

Clinton Meehan, Helping Hoops

“Thank you so much for your support for Free to Feed's program of empowering people seeking asylum and refugees through training, employment and support in food and hospitality. It's such an important time for the community to start coming back together and breaking bread, and there are great opportunities within hospitality for our participants to be a part of this broader recovery and of building a more inclusive and connected community. We thank you for your contribution to our endeavours!“

Daniel Bolotin, Co-Founder, Free To

“Typically, the youth in our target group are facing feelings of severe social isolation and dislocation from their frames of reference. They are struggling to speak the language of their new country and have yet to meet anyone from here that wants to spend time with them socially and introduce them to the country in any meaningful way. The trauma that they have experienced is an ever-present reality that they live with and as such they need to be taken into nature for healing and restoration.”

Neil McCulloch, First Hike Project

“We greatly appreciate this $5000 funding to expand and enhance our Healthy Living and Learning program through Growing Connections. This program works with senior residents on Kensington Estate and our main purpose is to reduce social isolation. With this funding we can explore a range of therapeutic garden activities, working with residents to improve health and wellbeing. This funding will allow us to more deeply engage with senior residents, responding to the more acute needs coming out of two years of restricted living. To have the opportunity to participate in a straightforward grant process that prioritises social inclusion initiatives is also wonderful – thank you!”

Esther Sadek, Kensington Neighbourhood House

April 2022 Social Isolation Grants

Big Issue – Street Soccer https://thebigissue.org.au/our-programs/street-soccer-program/ $5,000.00
City in the Community https://melbournecityfc.com.au/news/city-community $5,000.00
Cultivating Communities https://www.cultivatingcommunity.org.au/ $5,000.00
First Hike Project https://firsthikeproject.org.au/contact/ $5,000.00
Free to Feed https://www.freetofeed.org.au/ $5,000.00
Helping Hoops https://www.helpinghoops.com.au/ $5,000.00
Kensington Neighbourhood House http://www.kensingtonneighbourhoodhouse.com/ $5,000.00
South East Community Links https://secl.org.au/ $5,000.00

These grants were made possible with the support of a Philanthropic Foundation who wishes to remain anonymous. Their focus for this fund is support for Victorian frontline services. We thank them for their generous support and encourage other funders to make contact with us if they wish to have a collective impact with StreetSmart.

To support our work in the community you can donate once off or become a regular monthly donor below.