Neighbourhood House takes home an award

By Vanessa Wiltshire

PYALONG Neighbourhood House was recognised for its service at the recent Neighbourhood Houses Victoria annual state conference earlier this month.

With more than 400 neighbourhood houses across Victoria, more than 200 delegates from across the state convened in the Yarra Valley for three days of professional development, networking and inspiring keynotes.

The awards presented at the Gala Dinner included three categories: Community Development, Community Resilience and Gender Equity.

The team at Pyalong Neighbourhood House were presented with the Community Resilience award for their commitment to the Need for Feed program.

Need For Feed, which was established in Gippsland in 2006, supplies non-perishable household goods, food items, stock and animal feed to areas struggling with crisis, including drought.

The not-for-profit organisation runs entirely on public donations and is a major supplier of emergency fodder and transport to farmers in Victoria and New South Wales.

President of Pyalong Neighbourhood House Moira Waye said that she was both excited and humbled to win the award.

“It’s fantastic for our team recognised in this way, it just goes to show what a small neighbourhood house in the country can do.

“But we can’t be complacent, there is so much more work to be done.”

Pyalong Neighbourhood House advocates for Need for Feed in the community, undertakes fundraising and is the main drop-off of point for goods.

The goods are picked up by truck and taken to farmers and their families, generally in Northern Victoria and southern New South Wales.

Mrs Waye said that she has been ‘‘blown away’’ by the generosity of the community, especially people who had little to give. “From strangers in the supermarket wanting to give, to community groups who collect items on our behalf, it’s just been phenomenal,’’ she said.

“We’ve received goods and donations from the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne, to right around Mitchell Shire.’’

She added that the suffering of people in drought areas was immense and real.

“We’ve written letters of support and sent them up with the hampers,” she said. “Even some of the school children have done drawings and written messages of hope.

“It’s not until we’ve been contacted by some of the farmers that we understand just how much support means.

“Mental health of farmers is a real issue. While people showing that they care won’t fix the problem, it does go a long way.’’

Mrs Waye said that further collection points in the district would be ‘‘enormously helpful’’.

“If anyone has a community space they’d be happy to offer as a drop-off point for goods, please get in touch.

“You don’t have to have a huge amount of space and there’s little work involved. Every little bit helps.’’

Nicole Battle, CEO of Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, commended Pyalong Neighbourhood House on the award. “As their peak body, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria is really honoured to recognise and celebrate the valuable work neighbourhood houses deliver for local communities,’’ she said.

“Neighbourhood house staff and volunteers work tirelessly on the ground, responding to the needs of their communities in a truly grass-roots kind of way.

‘‘This is evident in Pyalong Neighbourhood House’s case, providing relief to farmers who are doing it tough now with the drought. Initiatives like this build community spirit and resilience, and that’s what we’re all about.”

If you would like to help Pyalong Neighbourhood House and Need For Feed, contact Moira Waye at [email protected]