Elizabeth South Community Centre Op Shop volunteers
A Grants SA funded community building project in Elizabeth South is helping people experiencing social isolation and disadvantage build confidence and re-engage with their community.
The Elizabeth South Community Centre recently won Grants SA funding of $39,771 to employ a coordinator to work with volunteers and, with their help, establish an Op Shop for people in the northern suburbs. The centre has recruited, trained and supported 45 volunteers and the Op Shop is thriving and changing lives.
The Elizabeth South Community Centre is a community development project and runs through the hard work of dedicated volunteers. Its focus is to help the people in the Elizabeth South and surrounding area to help people help themselves.
For volunteers, the community centre is a safe place for people to interact, and experience kindness and gentle guidance.
Kate* volunteers at the centre. Before her experience at the center, she was shy and often felt anxious. For the past 20 years, she mostly stayed at home because she was afraid to leave her house. Volunteering has transformed her into a more confident and sociable person.
She began sorting clothes in the rear of the shop, and with support and time, was able to engage with customers confidently. Centre staff supported Kate when she needed help and gave her opportunities to solve problems. She did well, took on more responsibility, and within three months, Kate was serving customers at the front of the shop.
Fellow volunteer Claire* experienced similar social isolation and low confidence. She agreed to try a week volunteering with the centre, through an arrangement with UnitingSA, as a small step to help her re-engage with the community. With praise and gentle encouragement from staff, Claire began to feel more positive. She was happy to extend her volunteering on a weekly basis and after six weeks, decided she wanted to become a permanent volunteer.
Claire’s confidence and resilience are now very evident. Promoted to Facilitator after six months of volunteering, she began managing and supporting new volunteers and making operational decisions within the Op Shop.
The experience she gained through volunteering was the boost she needed to look for paid work. After proactively looking, she was recently successful in finding part-time work.
The Elizabeth South Community Centre runs a number of programs. Crucially, these opportunities within walking distance for the local community, making it easy to get to.
Centre programs include:
- a café offering low-cost food and drink
- a Krafty Korner Group for adults/seniors
- a Men’s Monday Morning Mayhem and friendship group
- a Lego Club, and
- Kids Club for children.
*Names have been changed.