Earlier this year Harrison Street looked run-down. The sheds were covered in graffiti, the gardens were overgrown, pathways were littered with debris and odd bits of furniture were scattered outside.
Harrison Street is comprised of 16 Wesley Community Housing studio units. For many residents, these units are their first stable homes since stepping out of homelessness.
While the units have been renovated internally, the surrounding outside areas were in need of a makeover.
It was an enormous task to undertake. And some Harrison Street residents didn’t believe anyone would turn up to renovate the property. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” a resident told Liesa, Community Engagement Officer, Wesley Community Housing.
When a corporate volunteer team arrived, tenants were reluctant to come out of their homes to help.
But two full skip bins later, residents stood back and admired their hard work.
“They went from being in their rooms, keeping to themselves, not wanting to get out to being excited,” said Liesa. “Even those who usually have a bit of social anxiety, came out and helped prune a tree to be part of something bigger than them.”
As they painted, cleaned and weeded the gardens, strong connections were formed between the corporate volunteers and Harrison Street tenants.
“After everyone had gone, the morale was still so high. Many said that was the best day they’d had since moving in,” said Liesa.
Not only did they transform a property, the connections built between the corporate volunteers and Harrison Street tenants are now having a long-lasting impact.
Prior to the makeover, many of the Harrison Street residents rarely spoke to each other. Since then, not only have they maintained the gardens but friendships are now blossoming between Harrison Street neighbours. Eager to develop their horticultural skills, residents recently completed a two-day gardening course coordinated by Wesley Community Housing and run by Wesley Training. Wesley Community Housing also coordinated a horticultural workshop run by the Royal Botanical Gardens to make succulent pots as thank you gifts to the volunteers.
Our corporate volunteers were so impacted by the experience they plan to return in late 2019 to continue renovating Harrison Street.