Wednesday 12 February 2020

Neighbourhood House Week is back in 2020 to celebrate the invaluable contribution neighbourhood houses and community centres make to local communities.

Held from 8 to 15 May, this year's theme is 'Loneliness: the solution is community'. with recent studies reporting 1 in 4 Australians are lonely. Experts believe community-based activities are a big part of the solution.

Neighbourhood houses can provide a safe and non-intimidating open door for those who feel alone and isolated, and encourage them to become more actively involved in community life.

We encourage all 400 houses across Victoria to host events and activities during the week.

Download the resource pack on the Neighbourhood House Week website

About the theme - Loneliness: the solution is community

Are you feeling lonely?

If you answered ‘yes’, you are not alone. 1 in 4 Australians are lonely, and this is even higher in some age groups. [1]

Humans are social creatures who thrive on social connection and companionship. When we don’t receive this regularly, we become lonely, and this can negatively impact our mental health, our physical health and our overall happiness and sense of purpose in the world.

International research also shows that loneliness has a massive economic cost. In the UK, it’s estimated to cost 32 billion pounds per year [2] and in the US, $6.7 billion among older Americans alone. [3]

With a quarter of Australians feeling lonely on a regularly basis, and similar statistics being found across the world, experts are calling it the “loneliness epidemic”. [4]

So how can we as a country address the loneliness epidemic?

“The most effective way to reduce loneliness is to make people feel connected to their community.” Irene Verins, VicHealth [5]

All levels of government need to prioritise loneliness as a serious public health issue and invest in community infrastructure and programs that encourage people to gather, socialise and participate in community life.

This is exactly what Neighbourhood Houses and Centres do. There are 1,000 of them spread across Australia – that’s more than the number of McDonalds restaurants – and they provide safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with community, form friendships, and become involved in community projects, programs and groups.

And we know that when it comes to loneliness, they work. In a recent survey of 47,000 participants, the top three benefits people identified from participating at a neighbourhood house were associated with community connection, participation and reducing social isolation. [6]

So if you’re feeling lonely or isolated, we encourage you to visit your nearby Neighbourhood House or Centre, have a cuppa and a friendly chat, and see how you can get involved.