Behind the doors of Kensington Neighbourhood House, kids learn to code, volunteers help families learn English and people from more than 50 nationalities find pathways to employment.
The community hub, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday, has been named Community Education Provider of the Year in the Victorian Training Awards, winning out in a field of 300 organisations.
Manager Carolyn Webster loves working in her local community.
‘Most of the staff live locally and that’s given us a point of difference, because we’re all really invested in our community,’ Carolyn said.
‘We can walk down the street and strike up a conversation with anyone because they might be a neighbour, someone who’s come through the centre, or just a familiar face.
‘I think Kensington is quite unique in that the residents are connected, the community organisations are well-networked and we’re all working for the betterment of the community.’
Every year, up to 1000 people spend time at Kensington Neighbourhood House, for regular study, weekend workshops or recreation. A Vietnamese social group has been running for 30 years.
‘Most of the staff live locally and that’s given us a point of difference, because we’re all really invested in our community.’
Looking forward, Carolyn is building partnerships with local businesses, and is particularly proud of a new initiative with Linfox.
‘It’s an English class with a vocational focus, helping people pass the theory components of their forklift or warehousing certificate,’ Carolyn said.
‘We offer a similar prepare-for-work course in childcare, alongside a Certificate III in Children’s Services.’
The Kensington Neighbourhood House is powered by a pool of 50 volunteers who tutor English one-on-one, help people fill out forms, write resumes and much more. So there are plenty of opportunities to give back.
‘This is a very welcoming, non-threatening environment,’ Carolyn said.
‘For people that might be taking their first step into education, this is their starting point and we give them the skills to go into further education, employment or volunteering.’