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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Havelock House rolls out peer support project

Havelock Housing Association will roll out a leadership and peer support program within its community, supporting its residents through challenges faced during COVID-19 and beyond.

As part of the COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Innovation Grants Program, the community organisation was awarded $10,000 to roll out group workshops, mentoring and leadership training.

Havelock Housing CEO Andrew Rowe said the program would aim to nurture the natural mentoring and leadership that was already seen through the Havelock House community.

“When I started, I realised when new people came into Havelock House some residents in the existing community would reach out and help other residents when they were struggling or advocate on their behalf,” he said.

Havelock Housing CEO Andrew Rowe said the initiative hoped to equip residents with leadership and mentoring skills they were already showing signs of. Picture supplied.

“Myself and the team here will always be outsiders because we haven’t experienced the struggle of our residents, so no matter how compassionate and understanding we are, which the team here are, there will always be a degree of that.

“What we want to do is nurture this within the community itself by showing them they are valuable and doing a good thing. If we can do that, hopefully it will grow naturally.”

ACT Mental Health Minister Shane Rattenbury announced the grant winners on Wednesday 2 September, with a total investment of $400,000 across 20 projects.

Mr Rattenbury said initiatives chosen would build resilience, protect and promote wellbeing and connect the community.

“From ‘mental health first aid’ for young community group leaders, expressionist theatre for seniors, wellbeing talks and workshops for culturally diverse groups, and respite for palliative care givers – there’s something that every member of the Canberra community can get involved in,” he said.

“When we prioritise mental health in all areas of our lives and the life of our community, we open ourselves to helping each other in really meaningful ways – irrespective of background or circumstance.”

Mr Rattenbury said the grant recipients “demonstrate the caring nature of Canberrans, and that wellbeing support doesn’t need to come only from clinical mental health organisations and services”.

Havelock House is looking to get the ball rolling on the project as soon as possible, with a dedicated group already keen to take part in the initiative.

“We are going to get going pretty quickly. Within the next week we will have an internal workshop with people who have been committed to be part of this and look at how it is done in other settings,” Mr Rowe said.

“We have a lot of thinking to do on how to implement it. This is not a new concept as it has been used in other sectors, but from what we can tell no one has adapted that into what we do here.”

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