Launch Housing granted new gym

Kaylah Joelle Baker

Southbank’s Launch Housing has received $18,000 from the City of Melbourne’s 2022 Connected Communities Grant program for a new outdoor gym.

The independent Southbank-based community organisation, formed by Hanover Welfare Services and HomeGround Services, aids in delivering homelessness services and support to disadvantaged Victorians who are in need of housing support.

Its Southbank Crisis Accommodation site manager Yassin Abdillahi said Launch Housing was “committed to ending homelessness” and the new gym would help make an impact on this mission for people benefiting from its services.

“Exercise has many benefits beyond improving someone’s physical health. It can improve mood, energy and sleep, promotes social and community connection and can improve self-esteem,” Yassin Abdillahi said.

“Health and housing are so intimately connected, and we believe providing opportunities for our clients to improve their health and wellbeing in a gym setting promotes community, connectedness and participation which are critical to getting and sustaining housing.”

While attending a gym can be a positive step in helping one through mental health battles, the luxury of being able to afford a gym membership is not granted to all.

But the new Launch Housing gym will help with residents feeling “empowered” and “motivated”.

“Many of the residents that stay with us feel excluded from community fitness facilities, gyms and pools,” Yassin Abdillahi said.

“This new outdoor gym is a necessary stepping stone for inclusion into community fitness and health. We would like to help the residents get the most out of the outdoor gym and help them to get towards their goals, one day at a time.”

The council’s latest grants program is worth $543,322 and went towards 77 different grants that Lord Mayor Sally Capp said would help ensure “residents feel engaged and supported.”

“These grants will support not-for-profits, community groups and schools, giving people the opportunity to connect with their neighbours and contribute to our wonderful city,” Cr Capp said.

With the health of residents during a time of immense change and stress being at the forefront of the initiative, the council’s Health, Wellbeing and Belonging portfolio lead Cr Dr Olivia Ball said she was “thrilled” about the grants after the pandemic had continued to leave “many people feeling lonely and isolated.”

The new gym equipment is expected to arrive in May and will resemble set-ups which can be found at local parks and sporting fields, allowing residents, once they have left the services of Launch Housing, to continue to use familiar equipment in their surrounding parks.

“The new equipment will allow for the introduction of new exercise programs co-facilitated by our wellbeing and peer support teams and personal trainers. This ties in closely with our Health Promotion focus to extend people’s capacity for fitness and health,” Yassin Abdillahi said.

“Our aim is for this to encourage our clients to have a stronger awareness of their own health and develop healthy habits which they take with them after their time at Southbank.” •

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