Grant to fit out new Pickett St space

McAuley Community Services for Women has won a $16,000 community grant from Tim Watts, MP for Gellibrand, to fit out the new social and recreation space in the Pickett St building.  The grant, awarded through the Gellibrand Stronger Communities program, will be put towards buying sewing machines and other equipment, which will be used by women attending workshops run at the service.     

Jocelyn Bignold, CEO of McAuley Community Services for Women, said: “Homelessness is marked by a lack of access to education, recreation and social events. We are currently reshaping our housing and support program to include a multi-layered education and skills package.”

The package will include different workshops and opportunities aimed at improving women’s independent living skills, building self-esteem and self-confidence, and critically, providing a safe environment for learning and connecting socially.

Women will be able to engage in a range of activities from learning how to budget and save, through to learning to cook, paint, sew or play music.

“The skill development program is about equipping women, who have experienced homelessness and mental health issues, with skills they may have forgotten or have not been able to use for many years,” said Ms Bignold.

“The program allows women to have the chance to learn, socialise and begin to gain confidence so that they can adopt the life they want for themselves, including considering employment.”

Ms Bignold said the skills program is part of a holistic approach to support and recovery and would result in significant savings to government at all levels through the avoided costs of welfare and re-entry into in-patient centres and hospital stays.

“The program is about focusing on what women want to learn and equipping them with the skills they need to break away from a cycle of poverty, ill-health and family violence, and to reduce their reliance upon welfare.”