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Parkerville Community Care
Smiling youngsters Solomon and Annabelle with mother Annika du Boulay (front), Parky Care volunteer Kristy Horsfall and operations director Bruce Watkins.

It takes a village

By Claire Ottaviano

A NEW community group in Mundaring is bringing back the village mentality to help and support struggling families.

Parkerville Community Care, also known as Parky Care, was the first to apply for the Shire of Mundaring COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund resilience grant which saw it receive more than $26,000 to launch a new pilot program in 2021.

With a combined $51,000 from the Shire, Lotterywest, Mundaring Community Bank, Mundaring Rotary Club, Volunteering WA and St John of God Midland, Parky Care will create a space for vulnerable mums, dads and grandparents raising grandchildren  to meet for social connection, improved confidence in parenting and better mental health resilience.

Parky Care operations director Bruce Watkins said reports of increasing demand for parenting services from local service providers had spurred the group to apply for the grants to get a new program out into the community.

“We were hearing from mums that support agencies like Ngala were at peak capacity and challenged to provide timely support,” he said.

“Our partnerships with local medical centres such as Glen Forrest Medial Centre and Mundaring Super Clinic were advising they were seeing increasing numbers of patients struggling with everyday life issues.

“We knew we had to do something.”

Up to 10 volunteers will spend three months training in group facilitation skills and mental health first aid.

Weekly sessions will include a social catered morning tea followed by a structured formal session with guest speakers on parenting, mummy guilt, body image and weight management, budgeting and financial management as well as testimonials from parents who had been through similar situations and how they coped.

During formal sessions, trained volunteers will be allocated to tables of five to six to work through issues with attendees.

“The trained volunteers will not be counsellors, but rather trusted confidantes that can provide empathy and encouragement to seek out professional support for their circumstances,” Mr Watkins said.

“Mental health first aid training includes information on the wide range of support services that are available for people struggling with mental health issues.

“Parky Care’s desire is to create a ‘village ecosystem’ where older people who may be suffering from social isolation within the Mundaring community, can provide ‘grand-parent wisdom’ to younger, inexperienced parents.”

Mother-of-three Kristy Horsfall found herself in need of mental health help and parenting care when her two eldest children were young.

Now with time and learning, she is using her experiences to help others as a volunteer with the program.

“I’m very passionate about the need for mums to have something in this space,” she said.

“Having, back then, very young children close in age, I didn’t have family support and suffering post-natal depression, I know there’s a gap.

“You can go to the doctor but there’s a lot more to it than just that, it’s not easy for everyone to make that step on their own.”

Over the past five months, the Shire has allocated more than $118,000 to 29 grants under the Recover Together Fund.

Parky Care is the first to receive one of the largest grants, the resilience grant with HorsePower Hills applying to be the second with a $20,000 bid coming to council at next week’s meeting for consideration.

“These grants have supported some great initiatives and activities which will help rebuild and ease the financial burden on our community, foster community relationships and ease social isolation during this difficult time,” Shire president Cr Daw said.

Applications for Recover Together grants are open until June 30, 2021.

About The Editorial Team

Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

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