For the last five years, Jan Chamberlain has been on a mission.
When she retired at 67, she moved into a social housing unit in an over 55s area at Hamilton South – a community in Newcastle with a troubling but misunderstood identity.
After a couple of months, Jan decided she wanted to do something about it.
So, she joined a group called Hamilton South Community Solutions – a team of people who are dedicated to improving the area, reducing the stigma around social housing and supporting residents through information and activities.
Jan attended regular meetings, supported a Facebook group, wrote a monthly newsletter, kept police updated with a neighbourhood watch group and more.
She also participated in meetings with CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning, Mission Australia, Land and Housing, and Awabakal LTD.
Fast forward to now and CatholicCare runs a weekly food service on Wednesday to support the community.
It’s something that Jan believes has helped transform the area.
“What we’ve done here is big - we’ve turned it into a really nice community,” the Newcastle Senior Citizen of the Year said.
“Too many people talk about negatives, but we have some good stories to tell here.
“The residents are wonderful I wish everyone would cut us some slack.
“There are little kids here and if you put a stigma on an area, you're putting a stigma on babies and little children and that should never happen.”
In sad news for Hamilton South, Jan moved to Sydney this month to be closer to her family and friends.
While she’ll miss the area and her connections, Jan says she is excited to see what comes next. She plans on being an active part of her new home in Strathfield.
CatholicCare Director Gary Christensen commended Jan for her incredible work.
“She's been the lifeblood of the Hamilton South community for so long and has really brought some life to the place,” he said.
“She's very proud of this community and I think she's going to be sorely missed.”
He adds that CatholicCare wouldn’t be able to support the area without the generosity of the community and people like Jan.
Our Food Programs receive no government funding and rely on donations and volunteers to operate.
During August, we’re asking people to contribute to the Make a Difference Appeal to ensure that no one goes without.
Your tax-deductible donation will go a long way.
Donating is simple and only takes a few steps. Click here to find out more.
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