Boarding house life can be tough at the best of times.
But for people living with a mental or physical disability the challenges are immense. Faced with severe physical restrictions or managing anxiety, fear and paranoia, all too often they withdraw from the world.
NNC’s Community Linking Project (CLP) seeks to break down some of the barriers that prevent residents of assisted boarding houses from interacting with the rest of the community, helping them to live fuller lives.
“The project aims to help residents stay connected to the community,” explains CLP Manager, Carol. “It gives them the chance to have relationships with people outside the other residents. They can talk about stuff that’s important to them, and we do simple but important things like helping them to celebrate their birthdays.”
The Community Linking Program is primarily funded through the NSW Department of Community Services. A key strand of the service is the Active Linking Initiative (ALI), which provides learning and life skills development support to 43 residents living in Denroma Home and Carinya Lodge in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville. The primary focus is supporting residents to maintain as much independence as possible with basic daily living tasks, such as managing their own bank accounts, liaising with government departments, and regularly accessing shops and other community facilities.
Another focus is maintaining community links, and residents are encouraged to take part in group and individual outings together with CLP ALI support workers. Activities are planned to meet the resident’s expressed goals and destinations can range from museums and art galleries to the cinema, park or local club. “We try to encourage people to do things they have never done but always wanted to,” says Carol. “So, last week we took a group up to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains because they had never been.”
A weekly arts and craft workshop, which also involves residents from Kelvinside Lodge in Dulwich Hill, is another service, allowing residents to express their creative sides and socialise more widely.
Long-time Denroma assisted boarding house resident Clarice, 62, lives with a mix of physical and mental disabilities and depends on the interaction provided by the Community Linking Project. “I do a lot of activities with Carol,” she says. “She took me shopping for pyjamas and slippers, and we go to the club and on picnics. We have a look around museums and go to movies.”
A keen artist with a name in the disability arts sector, Clarice especially values weekly arts workshops held at Newtown’s Tom Foster Community Centre. “I make things from wool, and I have been thinking about doing sewing again,” she says. “A lot of people like me making dolls and little pussy cats.” Clarice is especially looking forward to a visit to her sister that CLP team members have helped facilitate.
Ashour has been a Denroma resident for more than two years and lives with a number of physical disabilities and a methadone dependency. He benefits from regular outings provided by the CLP service, particularly those to the local club. “I get a baked dinner or fish and chips and there’s music and singers,” he says. He also meets CLP team member Kim regularly for a coffee and a chat. “I’m very grateful for what Newtown Neighbourhood Centre does,” he says. “I would recommend them.”
Our programs and services help these residents stay connected to the community, learn new skills and access their rights. We’re working to support residents of boarding houses and those facing homelessness.
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