YMCA centres are more than just physical buildings and services, they are also community hubs that aim to meet the needs of each individual community. When a suburb or town is struggling, the Y can provide a safe space and connection to help, with leaders and staff compassionately working behind the scenes.
Derrimut is one of the ten most vulnerable communities in Victoria. It’s a place with high rates of people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, drug abuse and child neglect. It’s also a place of polar differences, where $1.2 million mansions and commission houses are neighbours.
Over the past few years, Derrimut YMCA Early Learning Centre has been confronted with a community in crisis. Our staff heard many heartbreaking stories of domestic violence and family hardship, decided something needed to change and so they rolled up their sleeves.
In a matter of months, the centre transformed into a community hub, developing strong partnerships with Drummond Street Family Services, Safe Steps, The Hunt Club (Community Development for Brimbank) and Community Housing Victoria (which services housing for vulnerable families). Our staff also sourced vouchers for the local Coles to donate to families in immediate crisis.
These partnerships led to the creation of a 'Meal and Music' night, which provided Y families a safe space to talk to support services, community BBQs, 'Care and Connect' sessions and frequent coffee catch-ups at the centre. For isolated mums in difficult situations, this offer of a free coffee can be life-changing.
Derrimut YMCA Early Learning Centre occupancy grew from 42% in January 2019 to 87% in September 2019, with many of the families coming from vulnerable homes and looking for a safe environment for their children.
There was a woman in an abusive situation, who couldn’t leave the house and was drug affected. Through the coffee catch-ups she received help, enrolled in TAFE, the kids are coming to the centre and she got emergency housing. In six weeks she was a totally different woman.” Shea Quirk, former Centre Manager at Derrimut YMCA Early Learning Centre
Thank you to the incredible team at Derrimut YMCA Early Learning Centre who care so much about their community.
More on empowering communities
In 2019, we held a sold-out YMCA Bridge Project Breakfast where participants Cam and Rav shared their personal stories of how YMCA Bridge Project and YMCA ReBuild helped change their lives.
The Y stands for empowering young people and believes in their right to be heard, that’s why we backed young people at the School Strike for Climate.