Community network flourishing

Exciting times .. South Dunedin Community Network community co-ordinator Janie Peck (left) and chairperson Eleanor Doig celebrate becoming an incorporated society last week. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

The South Dunedin Community Network is going from strength to strength.

Network chairperson Eleanor Doig, of South Dunedin, said the network became an incorporated society at a celebration in its rooms in King Edward St last week.

The registration allowed the network to apply for grants and signalled a confidence of its role of connecting its residents with agencies and organisations and fostering “a stronger sense of community”.

“It’s a big deal.”

The network was officially launched in November 2018 and has two staff _ community co-ordinator Janie Peck and community facilitator Robyn McLean.

The idea for the network was born after an “uproar” following the South Dunedin floods in 2015.

“After the floods there was such a rage in the community about the Dunedin City Council.”

The network held two hui every year aiming to provide a forum for the community to talk to “decision-makers”, such as council staff, to keep them accountable to the community.

At the hui, the community shared its “hopes and fears” with the decision-makers.

The goal of the hui was “to keep the dialogue going” – something the council had been doing in “an amazing way”.

She praised former chief executive Sue Bidrose for the high level of engagement.

The next community hui was at Bathgate Park School from 5.30pm on August 17.

The number of people attending the hui had grown steadily, she said.

About 35 people attended the first hui and attendance had peaked at about 180 people.

As South Dunedin did not have a community board, the hui were the only way to have positive interaction with organisations such as the DCC and Otago Regional Council.

Another focus of the network was to help South Dunedin residents tackle issues such as poverty and unemployment, by assisting with as much support as possible, especially when the full economic impact of Covid-19 hits.

New members were welcome to join the network.

“You don’t have to do anything is like the concept and support us.”

The network’s rooms were free for community groups to use and would be become part of the new South Dunedin Library and Community Complex on the corner of King Edward St and Macandrew Rd.

“We are very excited.”