A blooming partnership run by Southcare and the Moorditj Keila (MK) Men’s Group in Manning is once again helping people stay in their homes and giving Indigenous volunteers essential life and social skills.

The MK Men’s Group and Southcare’s Men’s Empowerment Program work together to help disabled, single and vulnerable tenants at risk of eviction by completing essential gardening work at their home.

The group has started services again following the relaxed guidelines surrounding COVID-19.

Organiser of the MK Men’s Group and Southcare’s Aboriginal Family Support Services Coordinator Garry Gower said there are five regular volunteers that attend every Thursday.

“Each year a group of men complete gardening and maintenance works for up to 50 properties a year all over our community,” Mr Gower said.

“The guys get a lot out of it – physical activity, skills development, social interaction, getting out and about and helping people. It makes them feel good about themselves and they enjoy the camaraderie.

“The men’s group empowers men of all ages to make a difference not only in their lives but in the lives of their children, families and the broader community.

“On top of carrying out yard maintenance and recycling household items, the gardening activities are a good way to build new skills and self-esteem for the men to re-enter the workforce.

Southcare CEO Dr Nicky Howe said the response from the community has been great.

“The feedback on the work they do is always full of positivity. Families are very pleased with our work and can’t thank us enough,” Dr Howe said.

“In these times of uncertainty, equipping people with practical life skills to help them ease their anxiety can go a long way toward preventing the development of serious mental distress and illness,” she said. “Plus the community benefits with the service and also the social connection.”

National Volunteer Week runs from 18-24 May and the theme this year is “Changing Communities, Changing Lives”.

“Isn’t it great that through this partnership we are able to do both?” Dr Howe said.

If you want to volunteer, contact Southcare or call into Moorditj Keila Community group at the Manning Community Hub.