How small things make big differences at Elizabeth Brown Community House

SUPPORT: Elizabeth Brown Community Centre co-ordinator Glenn Westwood says programs have always aimed to fill a gap for people who were otherwise isolated. Picture: Lachlan Bence
SUPPORT: Elizabeth Brown Community Centre co-ordinator Glenn Westwood says programs have always aimed to fill a gap for people who were otherwise isolated. Picture: Lachlan Bence

SEEMINGLY simple activities continue making a big difference from Elizabeth Brown Community House.

A lot of the positive work the Ballarat Health Services’ planned activity group does helps to change lives in offering support, particularly socially, for the isolated, aged and people with high-functioning disabilities.

The community house is set to mark 30 years’ service and while Elizabeth Brown coordinator Glenn Westwood said the faces had changed, the service delivery had mostly remained the same.

“We work on what you’re good at within the group setting,” Mr Westwood said.

“Each person has different conditions and their own goals but they all work together as a group and focus on the positive things.”

Members, referred through BHS’ Central Intake, can arrive with a variety of backgrounds, like with mental health or psychological conditions, physical conditions and trouble getting around, or those with an acquired brain injury.

Mr Westwood said, for many, the community house helped prevent depression and even suicide through the social connection and sense of achievement and self-worth.

Arts and crafts programs are popular but the community house also offering cooking, games, computer lessons, shopping groups and social outings.

But there is also a strong focus on giving back.

“We try to get a lot more people community active,” Mr Westwood said.

“At the moment we’re doing Begonia flowers out of recycled bottles and we make scarves for the Soup Bus, ponchos too...It really boosts our clients to have a way to give back, rather than receiving.”

The community house also has its own modified men’s shed program, open on Fridays, offering hands-on support and teaching to men in projects.

Mr Westwood said it helped fill the gap for men who might otherwise feel a little left behind in a regular men’s shed.

There are also plans to re-launch a she-shed for women.

The community house acts as advocates, not case managers, for members and works closely with relevant community and medical teams to check in on members’ changing needs and conditions.

Mr Westwood said the overall impact could be hard to measure. Programs could also help to reduce unnecessary client presentations to the hospital emergency department when often, at the core, it was because they were lonely or bored.

Elizabeth Brown Community House opened in 1988 as Elizabeth Brown Day Centre. The community house is open Monday to Friday, excepting public holidays.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE