The power of community
A home is more than just bricks and mortar; it’s a place of safety, a place to build independence, and importantly, a place to connect with your community.
Supporting Believe Housing Australia’s tenants to find a sense of belonging within their community is something Leonie Fuchs, Believe Housing Australia’s Community Development Program Coordinator, is passionate about.
She’s one of four dedicated team members working across two community engagement programs: Better Places, Stronger Communities, and Renewing Our Streets And Suburbs.
“Our role is to increase social connection and reduce social isolation for our tenants, so they feel safe and connected,” Leonie said.
“We also focus on beautifying common areas according to what our tenants tell us.
“This builds community safety, provides our tenants with a sense of pride about where they live, and changes how they interact in the spaces.”
Through the Better Places Stronger Communities program, Believe Housing Australia manages 479 properties in Elizabeth Grove and Elizabeth Vale.
The program is based on the principles of property, people and place and focuses on regular consultations with tenants.
“Everything we do comes from the community, based on lots of consultation,” Leonie said.
“We have a leadership group of tenants who tell us what they think would work well within the community, and they develop and sign off on initiatives.
“These initiatives feed into our community development business plan that we report on for the year.”
Renewing Our Streets and Suburbs is centred around creating safe, vibrant and engaged communities.
As well as providing quality housing, Renewing Our Streets and Suburbs works with tenants to build their independence and resilience.
Believe Housing Australia manages 736 homes in Adelaide’s west as part of the Renewing Our Streets and Suburbs program.
The homes are spread over the Port Adelaide Enfield and Charles Sturt Council areas and include the suburbs of Athol Park, Cheltenham, Mansfield Park, Pennington, Woodville, Woodville Gardens, Woodville North and Woodville Park.
Leonie said that programs like Better Places Stronger Communities and Renewing Our Streets and Suburbs can have a transformational impact on tenants.
“It changes their whole sense of self,” she said.
“When people feel connected, they’re more confident, they’re more likely to check in with their neighbours, they look after their properties better and keep their individual spaces to a higher standard.
“Mostly you just see a change in people, they become leaders in the community.”
Since the introduction of the Better Places Stronger Communities program, Elizabeth Grove tenant Jan has experienced the transformative power of community.
Suffering from social anxiety and depression, Jan previously found it hard to leave her house. Now, she feels more connected to her neighbours and community, and feels less socially isolated.
“I felt like I could go out and meet new people,” she said.
“I went to the Craft Group, and then also to the Women’s Wellbeing Group.
“The groups are diverse and they’re welcoming, and now I’ll get involved with everything where I can.”
It’s transformational stories like this that reinforce the power of community for Leonie.
“There are lots of beautiful people living in our houses, it’s about recognising their skills, and giving them the opportunity to shine and be heard.”
You can learn more about Belive Housing Australia’s Community Engagement programs here.