Hamlan and The Percy Baxter Charitable Trust builds first stage of Norlane neighbourhood hub

Geelong businesses have come together to complete the first stage of a revamped Norlane neighbourhood hub in a bid to strengthen and build resilience within the Norlane community.

The new Spruhan Ave Neighbourhood Hub is part of Norlane Community Initiatives, an organisation that delivers programs and initiatives that seek to address social isolation, support families, provide food security, activate local leadership, and strengthen health and well-being within its community.

The first stage of the neighbourhood hub is a five-bedroom residence where community development workers will live and work alongside community members to offer neighbourhood hospitality, care and facilitate programs and initiatives.

The residence was funded by a grant from the Percy Baxter Charitable Trust and completed by local builder Hamlan, with the help of local trades and local suppliers including: MB Prefab, Southern Star, Austral Bricks, CSR Gyprock, Harding’s Hardware, Chromagen, JH Stephenson, Floorworld, Stegbar, Haymes, Gainsborough, Victoria Blinds who generously donated time and materials towards the project.

“The house has been built by Hamlan who has worked hard to provide amazing support and a beautiful residence for the neighbourhood hub,” Norlane Community Initiatives Joint-CEO Simon Reeves said.

“The onsite residence is the first stage of a larger redevelopment project of the neighbourhood hub that once completed will include a renovated food hall, makerspace, urban farm, outdoor play area, outdoor eating area, co-working office space, meditation space, new car park, landscaping, commercial kitchen and neighbourhood food pantry.”

This expansion comes after a devastating fire affected the site, an old converted chapel, more than four years ago.

“Before the fire, the Neighbourhood Hub was already limited in its capacity to sustain the growing and expanding interest in the neighbourhood program,” Mr Reeves said.

“The onsite residence is an integral element in the approach of NCI through offering a space for committed and passionate community workers to live in the neighbourhood and offer hospitality, build relationships and work alongside people to develop local community initiatives at the neighbourhood hub.

“Over 12 community workers have lived and worked on the site over the past decade and worked at the neighbourhood hub to host a range of initiatives for Norlane residents of all ages including community meals, food cooperatives, health programs, community leadership training, social enterprises, social events and more.”

In addition to its community programs, the Neighbourhood Hub aims to provide volunteer and participation opportunities to enhance employment pathways for those who need it.

“We’ve had a long relationship with Norlane Community Initiatives (formerly Urban Seed) and share the same passion for strengthening communities,” Hamlan General Manager Andrew Carroll said.

“We know that some of the hurdles that young people in Geelong face today include place-based disadvantage and generational unemployment, hurdles that we know as a builder and an employer we can help overcome by providing people with the right opportunities through training and jobs.

“The Spruhan Ave Neighbourhood Hub will play an integral role in helping connect those people to the opportunities that businesses like ours can provide. So we’re really proud to be part of something that we hope will make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

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