Developing friendships and breaking barriers in Leongatha
DATE: 8 July 2022
Sharon Peattie can’t walk down the street in Leongatha without meeting someone she knows. As Service Manager at Yooralla’s Leongatha Community Hub, Sharon is a proud local who knows the importance of being connected to the local community.
In response to client feedback, Yooralla’s Leongatha Hub now offers more opportunities for people with disability aged 18+ to develop friendships and take part in social activities with extended hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and every second Friday night.
“We wanted to give clients the opportunity to engage in social activities and programs that were just about fun and social connections with their peers,” said Sharon.
“Many clients and families tell us that they would like to have more opportunity to engage with peers in social settings.”
With the new extended hours, clients can join activities at the Leongatha Hub including cooking a meal for the family on Monday afternoons or attending a beach night exploring the surrounding beaches and having an afternoon tea on Wednesdays. Every second Friday night, clients can join the social group to attend restaurants, pubs and discos in surrounding towns.
Breaking barriers to inclusion
While many of us take the ability to access friendship networks and social activities for granted, this can often be a barrier for people with disabilities.
“I want to be part of breaking that barrier, by creating opportunities,” said Sharon.
“We should all have what I believe is our human right to friendships and social networks.”
The extended hours at the Hub are so important and can help clients attend after hour events where access to transport may otherwise be a barrier.
“There are many things that we need to address as a community. It’s everyone’s responsibility to enable all members of the community to have the same access to choose what is important to them.”
Reflecting client interests
Sharon and the staff at the Leongatha Hub pride themselves on designing programs guided by client feedback and interests.
“I feel passionate about making sure clients have control and autonomy when accessing our Hub,” said Sharon.
“We always try to make sure that the Hub is a reflection of all the clients who attend, for everyone to have a voice. We listen to our clients and do what we can to make the changes and improvements that they want.”
While the team work hard to meet all client requests, Sharon recalls a time when a very excellent idea to install a pool at the Leongatha Hub had to sadly be declined.
“We would have loved to meet that request, but I think we’ll have to make do with the stunning local beaches!”
Mondays 9am to 5.30pm (weekly)
Wednesdays 9am to 5.30pm (weekly)
Fridays 9am to 6.45pm (every second week depending on client interest and numbers)