by Janice Challinor, Community Development Subcommittee Convenor, for Bulletin 8 of 2020 (October 2020)
This past year the Community sub-group has continued to undertake actions and projects aimed at strengthening links with the wider Glebe community wherever possible. This continues to be one of the guiding principles behind our activities. This report will essentially outline those activities according to the type of activity and the community partner(s) with which we have engaged.
For Centipede at Glebe Public School we hosted the annual Sunset Soirée at the Glebe Rowers Club premises in October 2019. Members of the Centipede Board of Management were very active in ensuring that this event gained traction with families who utilise the service as well, and their success was such that the lessening in Glebe Society membership attendance and support did not result in a substantial reduction in funds raised. As this is the only social function we host which is intended to financially assist our Glebe neighbours it hoped that any future events gain more Society membership support. As members will be aware Centipede at Glebe Public School is an outside school hours and holidays child care service specifically for children who attend Glebe Public School. It is a non-profit organisation that requires both government and additional funds to maintain its service, especially for vulnerable families who cannot afford fees. Friends of Centipede is a Glebe Society initiative to assist this vital local service.
Unfortunately, there will be no Soirée this year though, due to concerns created by COVID-19 and the need for social distancing. Consequently ‘Friends of Centipede’ are strongly encouraged to continue their contribution to this important local community service. Please consider a Direct Deposit to their Bank Account. Direct payments can be made to the Centipede account with the Commonwealth Bank; BSB: 062 172 Account Number: 10239391. Please give your name and ‘FoC’ as a reference and email to email@example.com with details for a receipt.
Due to demand, following its launch at the 50th Anniversary celebrations in July 2019 Sadie King’s biography, Glasgow to Glebe was given a limited reprinted run. Over 80% of these sold at the basic price of $15, partially through placement on consignment at Gleebooks, however if you missed out and would like a copy there are some available. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the subcommittee members will contact you to make arrangements. This recognition by the Glebe Society of a well-known Glebe identity proved to be very popular with her friends and acquaintances in the wider Glebe community too.
The Kitchen Starter Pack project, which supports people moving back into the community from Elsie Women and Children’s Refuge and Rainbow Lodge has continued under quite difficult circumstances due to COVID restrictions these last six months or so. The utilisation of St Helen’s kitchen as space to clean, store and pack items two days a month began in late 2019, largely due to Diane Hutchinson’s diligence and persistence, despite significant obstacles. However, its use was short-lived when City of Sydney placed restrictions, due to health protocols, on the use of all City of Sydney premises in March. Since then it has survived largely thanks to Diane’s use of her own home as a work-base for the project. This, together with some generous individual donations, the agreement by the management committee to guarantee annual funding up to $1000 less any monetary donations received, and the coming onboard of Jan Macindoe and Sue Hearn in shared co-ordinating roles has saved the project from the possibility of discontinuation. Since its inception over two years ago it has supplied packs to 63 families and individuals; a valuable contribution from the Glebe Society to Glebe and its community support objectives.
The sub-group’s investigation into ageing in place in Glebe discovered some of the difficulties older people face in our community. We also investigated what opportunities people enjoy in our neighbouring suburbs of Pyrmont and Ultimo. From our investigations and through association with GlebeConnected’s research interest in ageing we came to the view that one of the stumbling blocks to ease of social interaction and community engagement for many senior citizens in Glebe was the lack of a dedicated, permanently staffed community centre in our suburb. Certainly, Glebe has a wealth of City of Sydney owned and funded venues and facilities but there are also many difficulties including gaining access, fees required for use, lack of coordinated programs to engage residents and lack of easily available information. That is not to say there are none, but that those which exist are too few in number, often not widely known and somewhat difficult to access. Several of these are privately organised and therefore only available to a privileged few.
In the light of this information and with concern for the future of organisations such as the Glebe Community Development Project which supported many people in social housing in Glebe and occupied some of the space at Glebe Town Hall we came to the conclusion that Glebe would benefit from a dedicated Community centre, and that Glebe Town Hall, due to its geographically central location and variety of useful spaces would be appropriate for such a development. After liaising with other local groups and service providers we submitted a proposal to the Lord Mayor and the Council of the City of Sydney, asking that they give serious consideration to such a proposal. The response was a meeting of the Lord Mayor, several senior Council planners and the president and sub-group convenor of the Glebe Society to discuss and debate the concept of our proposal. Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Jess Scully tabled a motion in Council to investigate this issue which was passed unanimously. As this activity all took place at the very beginning of the COVID pandemic the City of Sydney has been engaged in responding to immediate issues that have arisen. Consequently, we have been informed that it may be some time before this proposal can be given the public discussion it deserves.
The small group that coalesced around the ‘Sewing for Good’ ideal was unable to continue to meet, once the Glebe Town Hall became unavailable in early March. This was due to changes of management of the venue brought about by the devolution of the Glebe Community Development Project and COVID closures. Consequently, it is unable to invite people to any publicly available activity. Former members continue to raise funds for the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown in a private capacity.
The community group has continued to support Glebe HAPN (Housing Action Plan Now) through participation in their communication initiatives. One was assisting the acquisition of funds for the printing and distribution of emergency and important contact numbers to all social housing residents in our community. This provided timely assistance at the commencement of the ‘lock down’ period. However, the work of members of that group in engaging with the Glebe Youth service in the provision of food parcels to people isolated in their homes in the community which also began at that time is continuing. They are all to be congratulated on this important community initiative.
The 2019 Glebe Society Christmas Appeal successfully provided a wealth of gifts for people at the at the supported accommodation facilities in Glebe such as Elsie, Rainbow Lodge, Detour House, the Girls Refuge, Kathleen York, and the Glebe PCYC programme kids. Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Hospital staff also contributed most generously last year, and given the right circumstances, we hope to engage with them and the Glebe Society members again this year to run this appeal.
Members of our subgroup joined with other subcommittees such as Heritage to voice concerns with respect to two Glebe Housing proposals this year. They are the RJ Williams Lodge refurbishment by Wesley Mission and 2A-2D Wentworth Park Rd/31 Cowper St demolition and replacement by Prince’s Trust and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s LAHC. Our group has been particularly concerned that adequate provision of social and affordable housing opportunities are included in these developments.
The subcommittee continues its outreach to the wider Glebe community through Glebe Connected, attendance at meetings of Glebe HAPN (Housing Action Plan Now), COGG and FLAG. These network linkages continue to help us contribute to the wellbeing of our suburban community.