Strategic Plan - Community Engagement

Strategic Plan - Goal 2 - Community Engagement

This article, we look at Goal 2, Community Engagement. As a community house, the place exists to foster connections between people, get people engaged in activities and courses, draw people together around issues and topics of interest, to combat inequality, help improve mental health and generally build a shared community spirit for the Winchelsea area. So this goal maps out what will get people (that's you!) through the doors to make life better in big and small ways.

Our community engagement goal splits into an email newsletter, social media activity, a course/learning schedule, an activities calendar, and community groups support. Let's take a look at each of these.
Email Newsletter
The single biggest challenge for Winch House is awareness. At the recent market, one of our Committee (who also happens to be a key driver in the Winchelsea Country Women's Association) was surprised by how many people thought the Occasional Child Care service was just a playgroup. It has been a long-standing issue that Winch House is physically tucked around the back of the Shire Hall and so many simply don't know it's there or what can be found there. With the growth of Winchelsea and significant numbers of newbies to the area, we have to find a way to let people know about Winch House and what's on offer. A regular email newsletter is an easy, low-cost way to go to people (instead of expecting them to come to us) and keep everyone informed. The challenge is to build up the mailing list, stick to a regular newsletter schedule, create interesting newsletters, and of course to find someone to handle it.
Social Media Interaction
Email newsletters, in spite of what some may say, are still very successful as a communications channel. But of course, social media is also extremely popular. Winch House is active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but trying to get attention is extremely difficult as all those channels get both busier and more commercial. Facebook & Insta in particular throttle what people see in their feed, and unless a person is constantly interacting with Winch House posts, Winch House disappears from view for all but a small fraction of its followers. How to deal with this to ensure that Winch House continues to appear in social media to locals? The answer is paid adverts. That in turn requires a proper strategy and plan for what ads to put out, who to target them at, and how much to pay. Easy enough, but as with the newsletter the challenge is to make posts & ads interesting, to schedule them for appropriate times, to work out what they best appeal to, and again, finding someone to do it all.
Course Schedule
One of the key services Winch House provides is learning opportunities. For career & job, or just for interest and lifestyle. Winch House offers what you might call 'official' courses that aim to give people skills such as certificates in aged care, responsible service of alcohol, first aid etc. Winch House can  also put on courses and workshops that are not officially recognised (and are therefore less regulated) such as cheese-making, keeping bees, using technology, dance style class (eg "No lights, no lycra"), fermenting classes, cooking classes, mushroom growing and a baby paramedic class. If we can publish and promote a course schedule in advance (eg. each term or maybe even coving a year), then people will know and can share what's on and arrange their own diaries to suit. Focus is actually now turning to planning a course schedule, watch this space for what's coming up in 2023!
Activities Calendar
Alongside courses and learning are the regular and ongoing activities. Two great examples already underway are the Craft Group and the Crochet Group. The Craft Group are a very happy group of ladies who come together on Wednesdays to work on their own Individual craft activities and for socialisation. Vee leads a small informal interest group on alternate Saturdays to learn some crochet

skills. Other activities have been suspended during the Covid pandemic ructions, we are hopeful they will return in due course.Winch House doesn't have the resources to manage such activities beyond scheduling and maybe a bit of room preparation. The challenge here is to find activities that are self-sustaining in terms of people who can keep them going, are of interest to enough people, and fit within the lifestyles and budget of those who want to join in.

Community Groups Support
This final aspect of community engagement is another core for Winch House. One of our Values & Philosophy statements is "Advocacy - assist our community to have a voice". Did you know that Winch House provides an auspice service? In other words, small community groups can get at official & legal status in the eyes of government by setting up an agreement with Winch House who will provide the group with an umbrella coverage for things like accounts, insurance and an ABN - particularly useful when applying for grants. How best can Winch House support community groups who have a special interest and objective around a particular issue, within the very limited resource constraints available?

All of the above are aimed at getting you (yes, you) to join us at Winch House - to grow our sense of community, to give you interesting things to do, to add to your life in some way. I hope you can help us achieve this. Keep a look out for what's on at Winch House, and if something piques your interest, please support us by coming along. If you want to organise a group, run a workshop, put on an activity, or even just make a suggestion - we're listening!! Get in touch with manager Wendy - see our contact details at

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