Lockdowns and ongoing interruptions to vital services have exacerbated many of the underlying issues of disconnection, isolation and loneliness experienced by a lot of people.
That’s according to Norlane Community Initiatives Co-Director Simon Reeves, who says these issues, compounded by ongoing structural inequality and injustice, limit the potential for communities to function more effectively.
He explains the last two years significantly impacted opportunities for everyone, particularly for those in the Geelong suburb of Norlane.
Norlane Community Initiatives, launched in 2018 by Simon and his wife Kaylene Reeves, is a community-led organisation that aims to care for people with programs and initiatives to address specific community needs around social isolation, supporting families, food security, activating local leadership, health and wellbeing.
Simon and Kaylene work to build local capacity, invest in local spaces and spark a movement of local residents, transforming their neighbourhood from the inside out.
For many years, Simon says he has witnessed the potential of engaging with people in thecommunity.
“We believe that when we come together to eat, work, learn, celebrate, share and get to know each other, amazing things can happen,” he said.
Bisinella Developments has proudly donated $10,000 to the local organisation to support the community meals program for 12 months. It is one of the vital services provided by Norlane Community Initiatives to support local people.
“Our Monday night weekly community meals have been running for the last 17 years, bringing anyone who lives in Norlane together over a nutritious meal,” Simon said.
“These welcoming dinners bring a multitude of benefits to the community, not only addressing individual food insecurity, but fostering community to create strong connections and networks that empower beyond each shared meal.”
Simon said the organisation did not rely on rescued food or donations from food banks, with all ingredients bought fresh, and each meal being prepared to restaurant quality.
“It’s not just about rocking up and getting a free meal,” he said.
“We encourage people to participate and contribute to help others around them by practising generosity and looking after their neighbours.
“A person who contributes to society gets a great sense of achievement and self-esteem, so this is something we invite at Norlane Community Initiatives.”
The community dinners have brought lots of smiling faces to the table each week too.
“One particular member of our community expressed to me before he started coming to the weekly community dinners that he wasn’t smiling very often but since coming in and being part of it he has learnt to smile again,” Simon said.
Bisinella Developments is pleased to also support Norlane Community Initiatives Impact Appeal annual dinner, which was held in October this year, bringing together over 70 sponsors and partners from across Geelong as a way of saying thanks for their continued support.
Bisinella Director Richard Bisinella said he was pleased to support Norlane Community Initiatives and the important services it is offering the people in the Geelong region.
Norlane Community Initiatives relies heavily on the generosity and support of local businesses and the Geelong community and Simon said the group wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of businesses like Bisinella.
“Over the coming years we want to activate local residents to take more leadership, revitalise key spaces in our community and seed numerous initiatives and enterprises which feed back into the local community and help it thrive,” Simon said.
For more details about Norlane Community Initiatives or to donate, visit https://www.norlaneci.org.au/