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Perth village hub changing the face of ageing

Perth, Australia: This fitness class is unconventional in more ways than one. It's offered by Connect Victoria Park, a social housing provider that's has set up a community club for people aged over 55.

Courtesy: APTN

The Village Hub is the first of its kind in Western Australia, and only the second in Australia based on a movement that began in the United States.

It aims to engage and connect older people, helping them live independently for longer.

"It's member-led," says Luke Garswood, the CEO of Connect Victoria Park.
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"So, it's older people saying, you know; 'We want to support each other to age well and have a good quality of life, be part of our community.'"

Members put forward ideas for activities, like creative writing.

"I think isolation's a big problem in our society," says Village Hub member and creative writing lead, Elizabeth Pappas.

"And The Hub is trying to break that down, reaching out to people, providing them with activities that they can get involved in and feel comfortable."

Since The Hub opened its doors in January, it's started a gardening group, choir and chair yoga for its 185 members. They can also drop in for lunch or simply have a chat.

"I find it interesting. Lots of things that I didn't expect to get before," says Village Hub member Aline A-Jan.
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"You just feel as if you're past your use-by date, but you haven't," adds Village Hub member Tricia Young.

"If you can just incorporate with the rest of society, it's amazing. You can give back and make it more like our village-style, when we were growing up."

The Hub also matches people for neighbour-to-neighbour volunteering and operates a help centre for navigating online services like Centrelink.

Funded by social housing revenue, lottery grants and the local council, The Hub hopes to become self-sufficient over time.

"We're aiming for ten percent of the population of Vic(toria) Park that are over 55, which would be 700 members," says Garswood.

Designed with baby boomers firmly in mind, The Hub is a far cry from a traditional seniors' centre.

"And as people are ageing, I think their expectations are changing," says Village Hub member services manager, Annette Hoskisson.

"They're expecting to be part of their community, to be active, to carry on contributing."

The Hub is open to members from any Perth suburb who are over 55-years-old.

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