Kensington Network springs into action
Unison co-chairs the Kensington Community Network with long time partner, the Kensington Neighbourhood House.
The Kensington Community Network (KCN) is a network of local organisations and community members who work collaboratively to ensure the wellbeing and amenity of the Kensington community. It is co-chaired by Unison Housing and the Kensington Neighbourhood House (KNH). Members include: City of Melbourne, Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre, Flemington Kensington Rotary, Kensington Association, Kensington Christ Church, Kensington Community Children’s Cooperative, Kensington Community Recreation Centre, Hotham Mission, 78 Seniors Club, The Venny and Transition Town Kensington.
When Government restrictions were swiftly implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kensington Community Network sprang into action, developing a range of initiatives to assist our most vulnerable community members and lift spirits.
The Network promptly identified Food, Technology and Health and Wellbeing as priority areas and got to work. Here are some examples of initiatives.
Local community gardens, including the award-winning Kensington Community Food Forest are offering surplus fresh food and are being planted out to increase food production for people with limited access to fresh produce. Food parcels are being distributed to families, older single people and those under rental stress. The food distribution has provided an opportunity to check in with individuals and families.
Pre COVID-19, the Healthy Living and Learning program saw 60 plus residents join together for lunch in the Community Hub. This was often the only healthy meal of the week for participants. The program is continuing with takeaway meals.
Erika, a Kensington resident, community champion and Network member, knows many of our vulnerable neighbours and regularly checks in to ensure they feel less alone. Erika has sourced surplus food from local markets and bread from Bakers Delight and has cooked up large pots of soup, which is delivered to people at home. “Most residents are apprehensive about going out and happy to see me each week. The program provides connection with people which is really important as they know they haven’t been forgotten,” said Erika.
The digital divide has become blatantly obvious. Technical knowledge or limited devices are an issue and the Network has provided support with items such as headphones, ipads, printing, network capacity, phone plans and video conferencing. Network member, Erika has been assisted to join meetings via Zoom.
Health and Wellbeing
The Network has also communicated the importance of staying active and healthy. A number of colourful posters have been produced in community languages, and promoted broadly, explaining that exercise and outdoor play, in a safe manner is ok. This information is particularly important for our families who live in high rise apartments and was especially important during the early days of isolation, when families were not clear on what they could and couldn't do.