From the Newcastle Herald

Wyee Community Hub to combat loneliness and homelessness

A new hub being built at Wyee in south-west Lake Macquarie aims to reduce loneliness, boost community connections and help the homeless.

Grego Pillay, who is leading the project, said the aim was to “build the capacity of the community through a more connected society”.

Mr Pillay said the hub would help establish a “strong community-support network that promotes positive Australian values of mateship, honesty, integrity, compassion and looking out for each other”.

Volunteer project manager Barry Chapman said the construction project was expected to cost more than $650,000.

“I’m retired and I’ve been looking for a project to use my skills, background and knowledge to support the community,” Mr Chapman said.

The hub will be run by the Wyee Seventh Day Adventist Church, but its services will be available to anyone.

A space for music will be created at the hub for karaoke and live music.

Mr Pillay is a musician, as well as a pastor, so he’s keen to use music for community building.

Quoting Hans Christian Anderson, Mr Pillay said: “Where words fail, music speaks”.

“I believe music plays a vital role in building resilient communities,” he said.

The hub is being built near Wyee Railway Station. It will be used to expand community programs and establish projects that “focus on health and wellbeing”.

Mr Pillay said the hub would support people who are “isolated and lonely”.

“Programs will include support for the homeless.”

Showers and laundry facilities will be available at the hub, along with emergency accommodation during natural disasters.

It will also be a place where the community can drop in for a coffee and chat.

The project has attracted about $45,000 in federal and state grants.

Mr Pillay said services and programs will be targeted towards “the most vulnerable in our community – families, children, elderly and youth, with careful attention to the needs of the lonely and the homeless”.

The aim is to help people boost their “capacity and confidence to face challenges and improve their lives”.

“Particular focus will be directed at addressing wellbeing, the environment and protection of assets from bushfire attack.”

The hub will be open to everyone, including First Nations people, multicultural groups and those with religious beliefs of any kind.

Low-cost food will be supplied to disadvantaged people, along with a program that provides clothes to kids in families facing economic stress.

A support program will be available for people “struggling with social isolation and disability”, with help given such as links to government agencies.

First Published in the Newcastle Herald 24.12.21

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