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Big win for beloved Kensington Neighbourhood House

5 May 2023

Pop into Kensington Neighbourhood House for a warm welcome and take your pick from more than 99 inclusive events every week.

The packed program brings together more than 1000 people from 70 countries each year to connect, learn and create. It relieves social isolation and empowers people to pursue their passions.

A historic house with wrought iron trim - Kensington Neighbourhood House
Kensington Neighbourhood House, photo by Phillip Gao

Manager Rebecca Smith leads the dedicated team that makes it all happen.

“I love coming to work every day. Kensington Neighbourhood House is a unique space that’s open to everyone and used by so many different people. No day is ever the same,” Rebecca said.

“On any given day we might have an exercise class for seniors in the morning, followed by a playgroup for toddlers while their mums learn sewing and English. Later, there might be a lunchtime bingo group, a kids’ coding club, after-school art classes and an evening rehearsal of the Kensingers community choir.”

A group of children playing with toy tools at a playgroup
Local children enjoy playgroup, photo by Phillip Gao

Kensington Neighbourhood House has been spreading joy since 1975. The beloved community hub began as a women’s and children’s cooperative offering childcare and support for local women and single mums.

As different waves of immigration came into Kensington, English as an additional language classes and social meetings for different cultural groups became central to the program.

A black and white image of laughing 1970s women; their names are written on the photo in blue pen
Some of the original team members in the 1970s

“We evolve our program in response to whatever the community needs,” Rebecca said.

“In recent years we’ve increased our digital literacy, study support and early-years literacy programs. There’s also a big focus on family learning, so we can contextualise and design programs to meet the needs of multiple generations.

“Climate resilience and food security is another key area of interest. We’re keen to explore how a little community like ours can learn to support itself more, including through our monthly fresh food market.”

Three women with boxes of fresh produce
The Healthy Living and Learning program in action, photo by Phillip Gao

We named Kensington Neighbourhood House the winner of our 2022 Melbourne Award for Community, in recognition of its outstanding achievements.

“The Melbourne Awards was a terrific event. We had so much fun and the win was brilliant recognition for the work that neighbourhood houses do to support and connect the community,” Rebecca said.

“People kept stopping me in the street to say they’d seen us on TV when the awards ceremony was broadcast, and students were taking selfies with the trophy. It was beautiful and uplifting for all our participants and volunteers.”

A smiling choir dressed in black and red
The Kensingers community choir, photo by Phillip Gao

Whether you want to learn a language, master Japanese pottery, grow your small business or anything in between, there’s something in the Kensington Neighbourhood House program to suit everyone.

Don’t miss the monthly fresh food market and upcoming activities to mark National Reconciliation Week.

A woman using a sewing machine
Sewing class, photo by Phillip Gao

To learn more, visit the informative Kensington Neighbourhoood House website or Facebook page, phone 9376 6366 or drop into 89 McCracken Street, Kensington.

“Any time you drop in, you will be welcomed,” Rebecca said. “There’s always someone here to say hello, have a chat and ask how they can help.”

Four smiling women in a backyard
Team members in the garden at Kensington Neighbourhood House

About the Melbourne Awards

The Melbourne Awards are our city’s highest accolade, celebrating the inspirational Melburnians who dedicate their time and energy to making this city a world leader. Applications for the next round of the awards open on 22 May 2023.

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