VU project connects disadvantaged men to community

Students from Victoria University’s community services program have helped brighten the lives of Flemington men who have seen hard times.

Five second-year students created the four-week project for men from McLean Lodge Hostel by helping them find leisure activities or volunteer work to develop skills and help them engage with the community.

The students – Sherene Magana Cruz, Marcie Hayes, Christine Barnett, Ngan Nguyen and Ruth Guiao – developed the program as part of their Diploma in Community Services (Lifestyle and Leisure). The project aimed to engage elderly men who have been homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless.

About 10 men are now trying their hand at “blokey stuff” they said they wanted to try, including painting, fishing, stamp-collecting, cooking or volunteering at Collingwood Children’s Farm, said teacher Nicole Klapanis.

The most popular event was creating a mural for the Lodge’s courtyard, with the help of a volunteer professional artist.

The project was set up to continue running independent of the students, who will graduate at the end of this year.

Team member Sherene said the students got as much out of the project as the participants.

“It gave us as much joy to see them involved in the projects as it seemed to give many of them,” she said.

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