It’s well known that social connection is important. Research over the 40 years points to positive outcomes for mental health for those who know their neighbours and have active social networks. The Connect 4 Wellbeing project has been working in the Meadow Heights suburb to raise awareness and create opportunities for social connection. Along with events to bring the neighbourhood together, there have been ongoing community consultations asking the locals how well they are connected and what would help them to connect more.
The results so far have been terrific. Although there is always room for more connections there seem to be many in Meadow Heights who understand the strength and value of community.
This project is possible because of the efforts of volunteers. And it’s been an encouraging experience for them; community members wanting to contribute. There was some shyness before we started knocking on doors and asking questions but everyone has found the experience fun, interesting and rewarding. On some occasions, the issue has not been getting people to share their thoughts and views. Rather the difficulty for the volunteer has been accurately recording all the great suggestions and anecdotes.
For everyone at Connect 4 Wellbeing, the opportunity to listen, listen, listen is invaluable. We’ve met people who like where they live, know their neighbours and care about the community. Hopefully, they will encourage others to follow their lead. With many having now met the Connect 4 Wellbeing team or been introduced to the power of social connection there is an opportunity to share information and initiate activities that the community has identified for itself. This consultation process has also forged strong links between community members and community workers in Meadow Heights. It has highlighted those local people who work hard to make good connections happen.