Library strives for a healthy community

Children enjoy story time at the Belgrave Library''s pop-up day. 205125 Picture: ROMY STEPHENS

The Belgrave Library is working towards increasing social inclusion by connecting with community groups and encouraging sustainability.

The Belgrave Library is working towards increasing social inclusion by connecting with community groups and encouraging sustainability.

At its Sustainable Living Pop Up Day on 19 February, the library featured stalls from numerous local groups and businesses.

Among them were the Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service (DRERS), Plastic Bag Free Dandenong Ranges, Open Heart Studio, the Hills Food Frontier and Interlink – Inspiro.

St Thomas More Primary School also attended and students planted seeds in planter boxes.

The library’s sustainability and gardening organiser, Dianne Gilholme said the aim of the event was to help people learn how they can become more sustainable, but also to bring people together.

“Social inclusion is a big thing for me,” she said.

“A lot of people feel isolated through disabilities or they don’t have transport… Or mental illness or they just don’t feel comfortable.

“I want the library to be a place where anybody feels comfortable coming to and they know they’ll be accepted.”

Ms Gilholme said the idea to make the library a more inclusive space first came to mind after she noticed numerous homeless people coming to the library for support.

“There were a lot of homeless people coming in here,” she said.

“They were looking at things on the computer like places to live.

“I said to the manager at the time we’ve got to do something.”

The library then began forming relationships with local groups, such as DRERS, so it could become a source of information for those in need.

Ms Gilholme said gardening has also been a tool implemented to help further support the community.

The library has recently created a small community garden in its courtyard and partnered with Interlink – Inspiro to create a larger community garden.

Interlink is a close group of adult clients with varying intellectual disabilities. The group has been running for about 18 years with Inspiro.

The Belgrave Library recently collected seeds from the community which it then supplied to Interlink – Inspiro.

Clients have used the seeds to grow a large garden, with vegetables grown given back to the community.

Allied Health assistant Emily Renfrey said partnering with the library has been hugely beneficial.

“Linking with Belgrave Library who have supplied the seeds for the garden has been wonderful,” she said.

“Growing the vegies has enabled our clients to produce healthy fresh produce that some of them sadly might not have readily available at home.

“It helps to promote healthy choices, and opens up new avenues to try new foods as some of them have never eaten anything they’d grown themselves before.”

The sustainable pop-up event launched the Belgrave Library’s Sustainable Living Series that will roll out across the year.

For more information, visit the library on Reynolds Lane, Belgrave or call 9800 6489.