Students from North Ringwood Community House have pitched in to create an outdoor haven for fellow youth experiencing crisis.
Community House VCAL students joined forces with the Ringwood Men’s Shed and Rotary Club of Maroondah at the start of this year to provide a much needed make-over of the Uniting Wesley 121 youth refuge garden.
The refuge provides short-term accommodation for 16 to 21 year olds from across Melbourne who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness.
Young people who attend the refuge find their lives are in crisis for various reasons. The facility offers safe and supportive short-term accommodation while they get their lives back on track.
The refuge is located on a one acre block, which had become overgrown.
When a refuge staff member with ties to the Community House connected the two organisations, the project idea was born.
Students have landscaped the garden areas, painted retaining walls, and installed mosaic tiles to give the outdoor space a splash of colour.
The students also assisted members of the Ringwood Men’s Shed to rebuild the chicken coop, thanks to funding from the Rotary Club of Maroondah.
“The students have embraced the project, and put in a lot of hard work and time to create a youth friendly environment,” Wesley 121 Refuge Senior Youth Worker, Katie Bonney said.
“They take great pride in their work. They know it’s a way to give back to their community and to help people their own age.
“The new garden space will provide a therapeutic space for our clients to sit and reflect, or to interact with others.”
North Ringwood Community House VCAL Co-ordinator Julie Reid said student attendance rates had improved significantly since the project started.
“Our students face a range of barriers in their lives, so this has been a really positive project for them to focus on,” Julie said.
“It has helped to build their confident, resilience and work ethic.”
The new garden was officially opened on Tuesday 18 September.