Community Development: Our programs are designed to foster welcome, protection and belonging.
Accompaniment is central to the JRS mission. Through our many community development programs, people connect with others and feel a sense of belonging. Programs are often designed in consultation with the people that we serve. This is the best way for people to empower themselves so they can thrive.
For JRS Australia, community development involves getting to know individuals, their communities and their skills, strengths, and passions. We foster opportunities for people to explore those interests at JRS Australia and beyond. JRS Australia does this by hosting a number of social and educational programs and activities, as well as cultural and community events. When hosting a program or event, community members are part of the planning and design process.
Our programs are run by staff, volunteers and community members and include:
- English Classes: We provide group and one-on-one English classes for varying skill levels. English language skills are very important for building independence and settling well.
- Cooking Together: Each Tuesday and Thursday a small team of community members prepares a meal for 20 – 40 people at our main community centre. Food is important in building connection and community and many people enjoy the opportunity to share their culture with others through the meals they prepare. Anyone can partake in these free meals and it is a special opportunity to gather together.
- Community Garden: Community members decide what plants, herbs, and vegetables they’d like to grow in our community garden. Once a week the gardening group gets together to water, weed, plant and harvest in our lovely garden. The garden has become a relaxing place for the whole community.
- Play with English: Play with English is two programs in one; an English class for mothers with children under the age of 5 and a playgroup. Once a week this group meets and whilst the children learn and play with volunteers, the mothers are able to access an English class which would otherwise be difficult because of their young children.
- Youth Group: Our youth group serves as both a weekly homework club and a social group. With the help of local young people we support high school aged children with homework and develop new friendships along the way.
- Men’s Group: This program group meets once a month and is a space for men to gather together to socialise, listen to guest speakers, and learn new skills. This program is delivered in partnership with The House of Welcome.
Other community ventures are:
- Nail salon and pamper days: These activities facilitate opportunities for community members with expertise in the beauty industry to provide these services to others who want a
- Arts and crafts: When we meet people who are artistically inclined we offer space and resources for them to practice their skills – even if it means painting on the walls!
- Events: With the help of our community we host social and cultural events and create space for connection, cultural identity and celebration.
The Community Garden (pictured left): When JRS moved to our community centre in Westmead the garden was just an overgrown yard.
But with the help of our wonderful community of clients and volunteers it grew into a thriving oasis providing lovely fresh produce that is distributed through our foodbank.
The garden also allows us to keep a compost to ensure we sustainably deal with waste from our cooking program and our foodbank. Many of our clients are avid gardeners and having a space for them to explore this skill has been very special.
In late 2020, JRS Australia’s main community centre will move from Westmead to Parramatta. In a post-COVID-19 world, when things return to normal, we look forward to resuming many of our programs that brought together the wonderful and resilient people that our team are so honoured to serve.
COVID-19 and community development: Read about how the crisis has impacted this part of our work with people seeking asylum here.
To learn more about JRS Australia’s response during the pandemic, please click here.