Lighthouse Project making a big impact
SOMETIMES we all need a little time to get away, to learn something new, make new friends and just be part of a safe family environment, and that is exactly what the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project’s (GSLP) new program, The Haven is doing for our local youths.
Having recently received $3M in funding over three years from the government and due to the program outgrowing its original location in Primary Care Connect, the GSLP’s The Haven program opened the doors to its new premises at 92 Wyndham Street last week, providing more space for the 120 regular youths who utilise this much needed service.
The Haven program volunteers, Jamie Lea said, “The values behind The Haven are all about having a safe, family feel space where people feel welcome, included, valued and respected.
“We have a pool table, ping-pong table, a rec-room and will be fitting a kitchen soon. This space allows the youths to come in for many reasons. They can learn new skills, talk to and received advice from mentors, study and meet new friends. It’s about providing a space where they can express themselves, learn and grow.”
GSLP executive officer, Lisa McKenzie said, “We started this program at the end of January and we are so grateful to have had the support from Primary Care Connect in the beginning. But, we outgrew the space that we had, which just goes to show the need for a space like this.
“We have 20 volunteers who come in and offer such fantastic support. It really is like a home environment where everybody feels included.
“This program is filling a big gap for social connect and provides access to mentors and role models, helping the youths to gain a sense of belonging in the community.
“A significant amount of funding will go towards the continuation of this program as we have already seen that the success so far really highlights the need for an open door, after hours environment that is safe.
“We had foundation funding from Greater Shepparton City Council, The Community Fund Goulburn Valley and through the Tat200 to get our trial up and running, which we are very grateful for.
“If anybody has anything they wish to donate such as musical instruments or furniture, or if they have a special set of skills that can contribute to the mentoring of our local youths, we encourage them to call Bella on 0400 133 650.”
Local youth, Tiannah Paige said, “The Haven is like a family. Everyone comes here to get a break from their day, school or to just escape home.
“It’s wonderful. The volunteers and mentors are amazing and you meet so many wonderful people.
“If you are wanting to check it out, I couldn’t recommend a better place to go.”
Local youth, Shaun Reece said, “A place like this can help keep you out of trouble and provides a place for you to hang out, make new friends, gain confidence, learn something new and offers a place where there is a good sense of belonging.”
The GSLP has also found a new home of its own Ground Floor, 40 Welsford Street, Shepparton after being previously located within the Game Traffic and Contracting building on Drummond Road.