Hi! We love reading blogs about the very worthwhile and interesting work of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, so the team here at Banksia at Carrum Downs in Melbourne's south east thought it was time we wrote a little bit about the work we do.
Banksia Carrum Downs provides a 5-day-a-week, social support program for older people, or those with disabilities who are financially disadvantaged and/or socially isolated. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we hold our social support group. Our Cultural Polish group happens on Tuesdays, and on Thursdays we open up the Men’s Shed!
Our programs offer a range of stimulating activities for our wonderful members that enhance their physical fitness and foster good eating habits, among other things. We run an exercise program, a community arts program, and we play ‘mind games’ (the good kind!)
Our strength-based exercise program is run in partnership with Protea Retirement Village. Every Friday morning at 9am, our members show up for their class with qualified training instructor Adam, brimming with enthusiasm and energy!
Our Centre helps people to maintain their independence, connect with others and get the most out of life. We also like to delve into different cultures through food, dance and music.
This year we launched an inter-generational program in partnership with Carrum Downs Secondary College. We provide the College’s VCAL students with great opportunities to nurture their skills in hairdressing, beauty, horticulture and catering. This program benefits our older clients as well as the students – and helps promote greater understanding and respect between the generations.
The students have helped us set up our community garden, in which we grow produce that goes into our member’s meals at lunch, and is given to them to take home. We have our fingers tightly crossed that we’ll soon receive funding for this project!
You can even get a great coffee at Banksia! Our Coffee Club is run by our generous volunteers, so that members can sit back and savour cappuccinos, lattes, short blacks and our delicious hot chocolate. But what’s a lovely cup of java without cake? Luckily the Carrum Downs Secondary College catering students regularly bake a beautiful selection of cakes for us all to devour.
We believe in bringing out the talent in people. For example, one of our members, 78-year-old Bob, is a whizz when it comes to computers. Bob knows how fun and informative it is to surf the net, and came to our Program Coordinator, Amira, expressing his interest in passing this knowledge on to others. He now teaches a weekly computer class at the Protea Retirement Village.
We help our members to pursue their passions. One of our members really loves music, so we helped him create a music corner featuring a rug, a recliner, a turntable and CD player, an oil burner and to really set the groovy scene, a lava lamp! Just another happy customer!
One of the highlights at Banksia is the footy season, which we celebrate with passion and enthusiasm. We love our footy! Our members are diligent about ringing through their footy tips if they can’t make it into the Centre. We have a grand final party which involves a sausage sizzle and a live band, at which its mandatory to wear your team colours with pride.
So what is a typical day at Banksia like?
Our members start arriving at our homely Centre at around 9.30am, where the smell of freshly baked muffins and cakes wafts in the air. They are greeted with the friendly faces of staff as they chat about what they’ve been up to since we last saw them. The bus arrives around 10am with more members, and it’s a lovely thing to see them greet each other with a hug and a kiss. Morning tea is then served and everyone happily talks, laughs and makes jokes.
After morning tea, our members have a variety of activities to choose from: they might take a walk around our picturesque garden, go to the library, go shopping at Aldi, play cards, cook up a storm at our Banksia Masterchef classes, do some art and craft, or simply get taken for a leisurely drive.
Banksia is a lovely place to be, for members AND us staff!
The Banksia Carrum Downs team