“I am a single mum with three children who has lived in Willmot for 4 years. When I first moved into Willmot, [I felt] isolated, powerless and depressed until I started volunteering with The Hive.”
Feeling heard and empowered
“It literally opened up a whole new world. I also work at The Hive and I continue to volunteer in my community, because I am passionate about giving back. My journey within this collective began with a Community Conversation with a staff member, who invited me to volunteer on a Community Clean Up Day. Shortly after that, an employment opportunity at The Hive suited my skill set and I was fortunate enough to get a job there. Because I live and work here, I have two personal investments in this collaboration. The first one is my kids, because my children are growing up here. And regarding working in Willmot, I am always on the ground, so residents feels comfortable to come to me because I am here, and I have earned people’s trust. Living and working in Willmot does comes with its challenges as the work never ends, but it’s good because I am always here when residents need my help.
In the last couple of years, I have noticed many changes in Willmot. There is less crime. People feel more connected. Whereas before, people never left their house, now they are out more. There is also an increase in males coming out as well and because there are more things for kids to do, more children are out and about. Relationships are building with the teens too, which means they are less likely to destroy the place.
One of the most significant changes for me is the infrastructure; which brings about community connectedness. The playground upgrade, and Hub upgrade has brought more people in to the fold. Before the change, Willmot wasn’t very welcoming. The Hub was a dump. The hills in the park were a hot spot for hoons. And the Reserve looked like a tip.
I think the change happened by residents sharing their ideas and workers listening to them, like at the forum and [Together in Willmot] meetings. It was important that workers came in and didn’t dictate the change. They listened to residents. Community Conversations were also important. They are not just another survey. Workers were on the ground and cared and really wanted to hear what residents think. We saw smaller things starting to happen which built trust and when the park was done up, trust was sealed.
People now feel like they are being heard. They feel empowered. And more kids are going to preschool. There are more opportunities for people to volunteer, upskill and find employment. There is a culture of empowering people to find their strengths. I found my strength and today I am an influential member of the Willmot community.
This collaboration is a growing piece for me. I’m realising my potential whereas before I didn’t think I had any. For this reason, Together in Willmot has increased my self-esteem. People encourage me, empower me, workers listen to me and allow me to contribute. I now have a place in my community, whereas before I was lost.”