The need for a Neighbourhood House in west Warrnambool is so great that the city council has made a move to get something to meet the demand sooner rather than later.
The city council has launched an extensive community consultation period over its plan to put two relocatables at the Pecten Avenue playground to house a Neighbourhood House - a project that will cost $500,000.
Since 2019, the Neighbourhood House has been operating out of the Beamish Street kinder, but with increased kinder hours being rolled out, that was no longer an option.
Cr Max Taylor said the Neighbourhood House had provided social and economic support to many disadvantaged community members, but the co-location with a kinder was not ideal.
He said the potential location at Pecten Avenue would provide much-need social connection, educational, recreational and supportive activities.
Mayor Debbie Arnott said the portables were not a long-term solution but a way of getting something happening much sooner.
Cr Arnott said it would be better to have something sooner rather than having to wait another five, six or seven years to get a more permanent facility.
"It's not an ideal situation but for that community I think we need to push on with it," she said. "We know that there is a great need..."
One of the services provided by the Neighbourhood House included the delivery of food hampers.
One woman, who suffers from diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome, said she was "over the moon" she didn't have to compromise her health when a food parcel arrived. "It's always hard to ask for help when you need it because of shame and pride," she said.
Another elderly lady, who doesn't have access to technology, said the Neighbourhood House had helped her apply for the state government's $250 power saving bonus.
Others praised the school holiday programs, playgroups and craft afternoons. "As soon as I walked in the door I knew that I had finally found my people," one said.
West Warrnambool Neighbourhood House reference group member John Finnerty, who also lives in the area, threw his support behind the project.
"The community members of the West Warrnambool Neighbourhood House are very excited about the potential for this project to go ahead," he said.
"It's certainly something we've been supporting for quite some time."
With west Warrnambool identified by a recent hospital report as being a "food desert", the project was a way of helping educate people in the community about eating healthy and growing their own food.
The Neighbourhood House project had many benefits, Mr Finnerty said, including helping to connect the community and reduce social isolation.
"Now more than ever, that's incredibly important," he said.
With council staff now having the green light to begin engaging with the community about the project, community development director Ingrid Bishop said they would seek feedback on whether residents were comfortable with the location, and what the pros and cons of the site were.
She said the council would also seek feedback around the concept design and what programs and services that could be offered out of the facility.
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