ON any given week, 100 people from around Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula gather in Hastings at Kindred Clubhouse, bringing knowledge and care to help each other recover from mental health issues.
The clubhouse is a model that is well known across the world, with 350 in 32 countries. Kindred is the only clubhouse in Victoria.
This year the clubhouse celebrates its fourth birthday, and founder and manager Stefanie Poole reflected on her motivation for wanting to create a clubhouse in her community.
“Imagine being discharged from hospital with no further support, worrying whether you’ll be ok on your own all day? This is how the majority of the people I was working with, and their families felt,” she said.
“This gap in service provision combined with an unwavering belief that our communities deserve better mental health treatment is what drove the beginning of Kindred Clubhouse in 2012.
“We started two days a week at Ebdale Hub in Frankston and were solely run by dedicated volunteers. We then received government funding in 2020 and relocated to our beautiful spot in Hastings.”
The clubhouse model started in New York in 1947, but the aim stays the same – help those with mental health concerns stay out of hospitals and use less clinical services, and it works.
Clubhouse participant, Michael, said he looked forward to getting up in the morning.
“I look forward to coming down here and having a coffee and a chat. It’s so important. If I didn’t have this, I don’t know how many times I’d be back in the hospital, without a doubt,” he said.
Poole said the clubhouse was not a clinical space. Questions were not asked about what was the matter, instead, attendees are asked: What matters to you?
“And for members, that’s peer support and they can access it in huge quantities – over 20,000 hours recorded last year alone,” she said.
Participant Pam said medication and therapy had their place, but what got her out of the house was friends from the clubhouse calling and making her feel wanted and needed.
“Most of the time we don’t talk about mental health as we are all too busy enjoying our time together. When people do need to discuss things, they can do so in a safe space, over coffee, and with someone who understands. It’s incredibly powerful to watch people who are in recovery themselves step forward and help someone else with their difficulties. It’s life changing over and over again,” she said.
The clubhouse is run by and for its members. The 200 members work together to run all aspects of the clubhouse and create a safe, welcoming space for members and the community.
Poole said Kindred Clubhouse was working towards an “every day, forever strategy” and raised money through markets and events.
“In recognising that mental health concerns do not adhere to a specific timetable, the knowledge of having a reliable sanctuary available holds immense importance to members, even when they might choose not to access it,” she said.
Anyone wanting to know more about the clubhouse mission and the power of community mental health care can visit its markets or events, volunteer or donate on the website.
Anyone experiencing mental health concerns can visit 29 Marine Parade, Hastings for a cuppa and a chat.