THE work undertaken by Horsham's Neighbourhood House in building community relations is being celebrated this week, as part of National Neighbourhood House Week, from May 9 to May 15.
Neighbourhood House Week is an initiative that looks to recognise the importance of the more than 1000 houses across the country, which provide a cornerstone to many rural communities in Australia.
In Horsham, the neighbourhood house provides many community services, such as pre-accredited courses in first aid, free internet and printing access, as well as spaces for community groups to host events and functions.
The house even has plans to host an animals and humans first aid course, which teaches children how to look after themselves and their pets.
Horsham Neighbourhood House manager Charlie Helyar said the aim of the organisation was to provide an inclusive place for social participation.
"The neighbourhood house is about bringing community members together in a safe, inclusive environment where they can feel respected," he said.
"The best thing about the neighbourhood house is that it is available for all community members, not just those in Horsham North."
Beginning in the late 1970s, the neighbourhood house moment initially provided a space for women and children to engage in activities as while their husbands were at work.
Mr Helyar said in the years since, the house has expanded its purview to include all sectors of the community.
"I got involved in Neighbourhood houses by initially being involved in the committee. I found the sector to be a safe and inclusive environment which encourages everyone to get involved," he said.
"Managers I have met in the past, they are passionate about the community, they are passionate about helping people and those are all the values that I ascribe to.
"Learning is a lifelong journey. We never stop learning. Any way we can help people on that journey is a rewarding thing for me."
The house also hosts the Jellybeans playgroup every Tuesday morning, and regularly hosts the University of the Third Age classes.
All this, Mr Heylar said, was to improve the vital social connections which held together towns such as Horsham, Stawell and beyond.
"After having COVID around and lockdowns, many people still feel vulnerable and isolated. As a sector, we look to rebuild those social connections for people," he said.
"I think it is being there just to help people. Empowering people, giving them skills and making them feel like they can come to the house, making them feel safe and important."
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