I was pleased to welcome Diane Hutchinson and Nick Hespe to the Community subcommittee in August 2017. Diane immediately grasped the idea raised in July, of a Glebe Exchange Platform, and bettered it. The concept was initially aimed at recycling good usable domestic items no longer required in people’s households, the collection of these, and their redistribution through the social service organisations in Glebe to Glebe community members in need. Diane’s idea however was to refine the process, to concentrate exclusively on kitchen utensils, so as to create Starter Packs for families moving from Elsie Refuge to independent accommodation. Nick, who had worked at Elsie many years previously and through his position managing the City of Sydney (CoS) service centre, was keenly aware of such needs, so the decision was soon made to apply to CoS for a matching grant to fund the purchase of new electrical goods (jugs and toasters) where second-hand could not be guaranteed safe. Other goods would be sourced from donations made by the community.

To ascertain the feasibility of the idea a limited appeal to management committee members netted more than sufficient items to create two packs with basic kitchen and catering items for a family of four. These were forwarded to Elsie for evaluation and use. Elsie management was delighted with the project as one of their difficulties when families leave is sourcing such goods necessary for independent living. Consequently the grant application was made and succeeded.

Information on required items was drawn up for the Glebe Society website and Bulletin publication. With the assistance of Jan Macindoe, who joined our committee at that time, space at St Helen’s Community Centre was reserved for collection twice a month from 3- 5.30pm on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, and the project commenced. Since its inception, and thanks to the generosity of members, quite a few packs have been completed and delivered to Elsie, and due to its success the project is now being extended to create smaller packs for single men leaving Rainbow Lodge to move to independent living. Without the hard work and initiative of Diane this project would not have eventuated, so on behalf of the Glebe Society I’d like to thank her for this important and ongoing community-building activity.

Just one of the Kitchen Starter Packs – made possible by Glebe Society donors – ready for gifting to a family leaving supported accommodation in Glebe. (image: Diane Hutchinson)

We were saddened by the death of Nick Hespe on 21 December 2017. His contributions to and support of the Glebe Community were all the more valued for the considerate, caring and respectful manner in which he carried them out. The Glebe Society extended heartfelt condolences to Amanda and his family on his passing.

The Glebe Society was once again involved in the annual fundraising event in support of Centipede at Glebe Public School. The ABCs 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales, then living locally, graciously agreed to speak to guests and in so doing, clearly enunciated some important community values and activity she’d experienced both locally and nationally. She gave special attention to the way in which the electronic media has enhanced connectivity by referencing her own ‘Chat 10 Looks 3’ on-line group, and for her pains was the subject of a ‘clang’ from another guest. The venue for the event, generously provided gratis by Glebe Rowing Club, reached maximum attendance capacity and overall it netted in excess of $7000, which was gratefully accepted by manager Vicky Brown, for Centipede.

Visits to Elsie and several other supported accommodation facilities in Glebe were made in late October to ascertain the age/gender composition of families, prior to Christmas. The publication of this information in the November Bulletin resulted in a considerable number of gifts donated by members for those resident in our community. However the management and staff of Lifehouse Hospital in Camperdown also joined with us in our appeal for gifts and provided a bounty of goods. Consequently we were able to bring Christmas cheer to the residents of five supported residential facilities including Elsie and Rainbow Lodge, as well as several local families in need. Altogether over 95 people received gifts. We intend to continue this activity in the future and hope that Chris O’Brien’s Lifehouse will again extend its support.

In December the committee set about researching the history of the Old Fire Station (OFS), its uses both past and present, and its importance to the Glebe community, especially those in public housing. This formed the basis of Bulletin and website articles, written by Diane Hutchinson, Jan and me in April, 2018. The purpose of this activity was to create a body of information in support of any call needed to maintain this vital community facility. It is to be hoped that the State’s Land and Housing Corporation and Housing NSW will continue to do so as it is so important to the residents of Glebe Estate.

On 6 May this year a long term community project came to fruition. It was the opening of the Elsie Mural located on Elsie Walk, adjacent to the Derwent St side of Glebe Public School. This stirring artwork commemorates the establishment of the Elsie women’ and family domestic violence shelter in Glebe in 1974. Its significance is increased by the untimely death of one of the Glebe artists, Liz Rooney for whom it is now commemorative, being her last work. Aunty Kath Farrawell and members of Liz’s family, with the assistance of Kelly Wallwork completed the mural, and it was dedicated by Cr Jess Scully on behalf of the City of Sydney. Special thanks and recognition go to Katharine Vernon for guiding the extended process to its conclusion, and to Jan Wilson and Kate Brennan of Glebe Treehouse for their input.

The subcommittee continues its outreach to the wider Glebe community through Glebe Connected (formerly Collective Impact), ably represented by John Gray, attendance at meetings of Glebe Housing Action Plan Now HAPN), COGG and FLAG. These network linkages continue to help us contribute to the wellbeing of our suburban community.