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Connecting Community in the Upper Hume Pilot (CCUHP) Social Prescribing Project applies the Living Our Best Life model developed by the CHAOS (Community Houses Association of the Outer-eastern Suburbs) Neighbourhood House Network.

The CCUHP project aims to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Reducing social isolation and loneliness amongst members of Upper Hume communities, especially for those who are currently not connected or engaged with other people

  • Activating and linking social and community activity that is already happening in local communities

  • Establishing and strengthening relationships between Upper Murray neighbourhood houses and the health sector, and positioning our houses as a vital part of the social prescribing and social inclusion environments


Living Our Best Life community connecting model


The Living Our Best Life (LOBL) project was funded in 2019 to trial a model of social prescribing inspired by the work of Mendip Health Connections and the Bromley by Bow Centre in the United Kingdom. ‘Social prescribing’ is the practice where health professionals provide a referral for a patient to be linked into social services and activities to address the social determinant contributing to poor health, loneliness and isolation.

The impacts of loneliness and isolation on people’s mental health are well understood. However, there is growing evidence that loneliness and isolation also have significant and detrimental impact on people’s physical health. It is an issue that can affect anybody in our community, no matter what age or demographic.

LOBL has three key components:

Community connecting – this includes social prescribing, other sources of engagement and the process of community connecting.

People enter the program in two main ways: social prescribing from a GP, social worker etc; and self referral eg through signposting, Talking Cafes, marketing material. They participate formally (through the Community Connector) or informally (eg through Talking Cafes and/or signposting).

The Community Connector is a volunteer who will work with the person who has been referred to help them find a social activity that interests them, and then help them to participate until they are able to do so on their own.

This component also includes the development of an online community directory which identifies all social activity happening in the community, not only what is provided by neighbourhood houses. This online directory will be available to anyone in the community.

Talking Cafes – these are sessions that take place in a café in the general community at regular times (usually weekly) and hosted by a volunteer. We ensure that a volunteer host is a designated café each week at the same time to welcome newcomers, help facilitate conversation and provide information. That way, others in the community (signposters) can confidently recommend to people that if they drop by on that regular day and time they will be able to connect with the project.

Signposting – this is providing information (and potentially some training) about the project to people who are in touch with members of the community who may be quite disconnected or isolated, for example library staff, hairdressers, and people providing home care services.


The LOBL model has proven to be highly impactful, with 90% of participants reporting improved community involvement, and 100% of referring health professionals reporting a valuable increase in optimism and positivity in patients and all saying they would recommend the program to their peers.

You can find out more about the LOBL project by visiting the project webpage:


Connecting Community in the Upper Hume Pilot project

The Connecting Community in the Upper Hume Pilot Social Prescribing Project aims to address the impacts of loneliness and isolation by increasing opportunities for people in communities across Upper Hume to connect with others. We have received funding from the Department of Health through the Bushfire Recovery Mental Health package.

This project will apply the LOBL model in Upper Hume. Five neighbourhood houses have received funding to implement the model in their own community:

  • Yarrawonga - Yarrawonga Mulwala Community and Learning Centre

  • Wangaratta – Open Door Neighbourhood House

  • Chiltern – Chiltern Neighbourhood House

  • Mt Beauty – Mt Beauty Neighbourhood Centre

  • Corryong – Corryong Neighbourhood Centre


As the title indicates, the CCUHP is a pilot – taking a model (and associated resources and tools) developed in a metropolitan environment and testing it in rural and regional communities. We will be undertaking extensive evaluation as part of the project to understand the impact of this approach in our communities.

The Upper Murray Regional Neighbourhood House Network is providing support for the project through:

  • Overall project management and reporting to the Department of Health

  • Engagement of a project consultant, Leanne Fitzgerald, who developed this model for the CHAOS Network and has extensive knowledge and expertise about social prescribing

  • Engagement of project support worker, Tanya Grant, who will provide additional support to the participating neighbourhood houses where required

  • Facilitation of a Project Reference Group, which will include representatives from local health services and agencies


For more information contact Trish Curtis on 0488 572225 or

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