22 June, 2022
Back to normal for Caboolture Neighbourhood Centre
WITH Covid-19 restrictions now at an end, the Caboolture Neighbourhood Centre is resuming normal activities, says Malcolm Thomson, CEO of the centre.
“It is normal business for us now, we have got most of our clients back, some have been frightened to come back, especially older people, but we are also seeing that in general life,” Mr Thomson said.
“We would rather see people back in the community, wearing a mask, rather than staying at home in isolation.”
Mr Thomson said part of the Centre’s community response is to offer free Covid-19 boosters, as well as flu vaccinations, for the whole community.
“We have partnered with Better Access Medical Clinic to run the vaccinations, they have qualified nurses administering the vaccinations, and it I call free of charge.
“They have worked with the centre in the past, as part of community health programs, the clinic is operating from 11.30am to 2.30pm.”
Mr Thomson said while social distancing regulations no longer applied, the centre does encourage good hygiene practices, in a bid to reduce disease transmission.
“It is not just about Covid, but it has been a good lesson to us all on the need to be careful.”
With the centre forced to suspend many of its activities and programs during the pandemic, Mr Thomson said the children’s playground underwent a major upgrade, funded by a grant form the Department of Communities.
“Every Neighbourhood Centre in Queensland received $200,000 to spend on upgrades ahead of reopening, so we focused on getting the children’s playground right.
“We had all the sand base and weed matting removed, we repacked it with road base to improve drainage, and laid a new outdoor carpet.
“Our next project will be to replace the shade sails, we are waiting for the next round of funding, we are already working with local sail makers to design and then install them once we have the funding.”
Following the upgrade, Mr Thomson said a number of mothers and parents groups were now using the playground, with more enquiries coming in regularly.
“We had to stop running the groups during Covid, now we are getting stability back into the community, and seeing our activities return to normal.”
While the family and health functions are now operating, Mr Thomson said the free budgeting service is also open, operated by Caboolture Counselling and Budgeting Support (CCaBS).
“We find people do need guidance, and that is what the service is about, we are not telling them how to spend their money, but it is offering suggestions on how to use their income to their best advantage, we can also help with savings plans.
“We are also working with local high schools to help equip young people with financial skills and knowledge before they leave school.”
Mr Thomson said he still has a ‘wish list’ of projects and activities he would like to launch or reopen.
“I would like to create a ‘chat group’ for grandparents who have custody of their grandchildren, there are a variety of reasons that happens, but we want to offer them a place to meet and talk over morning tea.
“We want it to be somewhere they can talk about shared experiences and challenges, while the children are at school, it could be as simple as swapping lunchbox recipes or tips, to keep up with the changing requirements of schools, especially around allergies and healthy eating.”
While the group would be largely self-directed, Mr Thomson said centre staff would be available to give support where it was needed.
“We want to establish their needs and wants, do they want guys speakers, a nutritionist to help with lunchbox ideas, we want to give them the support so they can have their fullest life possible, while getting the best outcomes for the children.”
Mr Thomson said he is also looking for volunteers who can help with restarting the cooking group, to help teach simple cooking skills and recipes.
“We need someone, or a couple of people, they will need a Blue Card, for working with children, but few can help them with the paperwork, so long as they meet the qualifying requirements.
“They need to have a love of cooking, and can teach and share recipes that are nutritious, and can be prepared on a budget.”
Most importantly, Mr Thomson said it is vital the community returns to a pre-Covid level of engagement with each other.
“We are saying, ‘Don’t be lonely or isolated, reach out and re-engage’, it is important to have some social contact.”