Aims The basic concept of Link Up Community is that the community as a whole should accept the responsibility for the welfare and well-being of the individuals in it. This can occur only if communication between individuals in the community facilitates the transfer of information and understanding between people. Link Up Community's purpose is to stimulate and to provide the catalyst for this interaction of people in a mutual aid situation. The aims of Link Up Community are ambitious, but very basic. They are basic because we will be operating within the framework of human life and human needs. As well as providing a community service, we will involve the community directly in its own welfare and promote efficient use of established services.
Link Up Community is a mutual help service organisation, developing from a telephone service operating twenty-four hours a day on Friday and Saturday and up 'until midnight the rest of the week. It will provide information, and referral through personal contact at the centre and by means of the telephone service. The provision of this centre will facilitate communication by linking
up people with similar needs and ideas; by putting people in touch with whoever can help them ; and by disseminate information. In the future, resources permitting, we will be operating a twenty-four hour, seven day a week information, referral, and emergency service Community involvement will be strengthened by volunteers within the community who are undertaking a learning programme which will help equip them to operate the information and referral services. To stimulate latent potential within the community we will encourage social involvement groups and projects to establish new services, a free interchange of skills, knowledge and resources. Another important aspect of the project is research into areas of need. We are documenting
every inquiry that the centre receives so that areas of particular need can be pin-pointed and supported with documented evidence for presentation to the appropriate bodies. Internal research is a basic function in order to keep our information up to
date and therefore usable. All services provided are free. Our services will be easily accessible through the centrally located
drop-in centre and the telephone service. We aim to cater for all sections of the community from the young to the aged. Link Up Community will be a non-profit, non- sectarian, non-political, participatory social welfare organisation. It is a long term goal to see the establishment of similar organisations in every community. This is required in order to fully realise the potential the 'Link Up' concept has as a means of involving the community in its own well-being and development. Activities Link Up Community has established a centre from which our activities are being organised and operated. The house which we are sharing with Prahran
Free Legal Service is on loan to us from the Prahran College of Technology. The centre is at 59 John St., Prahran (Melbourne).
Telephone Service The telephone service will, in the future, be operated twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, by voluntary staff. The volunteers are involved in our learning programme which will be a continuous aspect of our operation.
The telephone service will facilitate communication in the following areas :
1 Referral Service. We are providing enquirers with information about community services most appropriate to their needs, where this is possible. Not only will this referral help the person needing theservice, but it will help the people who operate other services. We aim to bridge the gap between what a person is looking for and what a particular service provides. In this way, both the time and the resources of the consumer and the agent are saved, and frustrations are minimised.
2 Information Service. We are integrating all sources of information into a comprehensive resource file. This file is the basis of a system for collating and integrating information relevant to the needs of the community. This file is a collection of not just all the social welfare directories, but also includes non-institutional information. Each person is a walking information service with ideas and resources—its this type of information we are attempting to collect and integrate. Our files include :
a Resource, Skill and Idea File : people who want a particular resource, skill or knowledge will be linked up with those who can satisfy this need. For example, if a person wants to establish a creche, we will link them up with people who are already operating a creche or who have indicated that they have interests in this area.
b Employment File : this would largely take the form of part-time or casual employment, such as gardening, home help etc. We will also refer people interested in voluntary community work to agencies which need volunteer workers. Our information will not be limited to the areas mentioned above : they are only some of the areas wh ich Link Up Community will cover.
Research is a very important aspect of Link Up Community's function. Our aim is to collate and revise information and to document areas of inadequacy in the services provided by Link Up Community and other agencies. In this wa y we will be able to improve our services andprovide feed-back to other agencies. Each inquiry Link Up receives is documented, with details of the
call recorded i.e. the nature of the call, how it was dealt with, the approximate age of the caller and so on. An extension of this aspect of our work will be the 'follow up', both of callers to Link Up Community and of people we refer to other agencies, which will help us to determine the usefulness of particular services. Link Up Community's records will be available for use by people or organisations who are doing research into particular areas. Unlike our files, our records will not be available to the general public, although we propose to publish analyses of these records. We plan to publish a Directory but this will not be done for about a year. It will be an Alternative Directory a comprehensive guide to alternative services and resources available in Melbourne. Also at present we are involved in helping community agencies in Prahran produce a guide to Prahran.
The newspaper has made its first appearance and will continue to come out with consistent irregularity, depending on the amount of interest in it and the amount of information needed. It is part of the Link Up idea, printing information gathered as a result of research or the files, linking up people with free ads and publicity for little-known or new groups. Also it is a way of getting the Link Up message across directly and involving people in Link Up. Most people have untapped creative resources which it is a growing experience to use. The paper is free, supported by advertisements and the free use of a lot of equipment. We can use it to reach people directly, by distributing in schools, housing commission flats etc. It's for anyone who wants to do anything and it's a fun thing.
1 Drop In Centre : this service, which we hope to establish in the future, will be similar to the telephone service in that it will be a communication project, particularly in respect to information referral and emergency services. It will be operated twenty four hours a day by our volunteers. Reports and discussions we have had with people who operate similar services in Canada, USA, England and New Zealand, reveal that many people prefer face to face contact rather than the 'faceless' telephone. Thus we are experimenting with a twenty-four hour a day drop-in centre.
2 Emergency or Crisis Intervention: this service is designed to deal with any emergency which a person may encounter whether psychological (suicide, loneliness, drug or alcohol-oriented situations) or material emergencies ranging from helping a person find accommodation or advising where to get free clothing or a free meal.
Will Link-up be Duplicating Existing Services?
In Melbourne at present there are two full time emergency services, Life Line and Personal Emergency Service, operating in a city of about two million people. One could ask whether this is adequate, for this averages one million people to each service. Discussions have been held with representatives from similar projects in New Zealand, England, Canada and the United States, In Vancouver, Canada , there are six crisis centres operating at the community level. For instance, the Intersection Society caters for about twenty thousand people. In New Zealand, which has a population similar to that of Melbourne, there are three crisis centres and it seems from discussions with these, that they see the need to establish more. Even if Link Up Community duplicates some of the features of existing services, it could not be regarded as a waste of resources. In similar areas of operation, for instance the telephone service, we will be helping to supplement the existing services. By establishing a twenty-four hour emergency referral and information centre we are projecting a total view of meeting people's needs. At present in Melbourne there is no twenty-four hour drop-in centre, where people can make contact for help with their problems although the drop-in centre hasn't been established formally as yet (due to lack of resources) we do have many people just dropping in rather than using the telephone. At present in Melbourne there is no total information directory, meaning an integrated and readily accessible source of information about alternative and existing resources within the community. We will be providing a 'linking up' service to involve individuals or groups who are interested in similar projects, thereby stimulating social involvement. Link Up Community will have no direct affiliation with any religious or governmental organisations. It will be a broad-based programme of
total community involvement. However it is in itia lly expected that a major part of our contact
will be with younger people.
The Learning Group will be responsible for orientating new members of Link Up Community to the aims and procedure of the
service and for providing on-going experiences for all volunteers which will help them cope with the
demands placed on them by enquirers. Three distinct programmes are envisaged :
1 Volunteers will be instructed in the use of the filing system and the body of information it contains. It is important that volunteers know existing services well so that they can select the most appropriate service for each enquirer.
2 Volunteers are attending group meetings which are intended to promote interpersonal awareness. On-going Encounter Groups and allied techniques have been suggested as a suitable way of fulfilling this aim. It is hoped that this experience will promote in volunteers :-
a a frank awareness of their own motives
b the ability and confidence to cope with emotionally charged interpersonal exchanges
c the tendency to be open and trusting
d non-judgmental and supportive behaviour patterns
e a greater awareness of other people's motives and defensive behaviour patterns
f the ability to discriminate between constructive and destructive patterning of interpersonal relating .
This type of training is desirable to decrease the likelihood that volunteers will use their involvement with Link-Up Community to work through their own problems.
Lectures and group discussions related to the type of problems encountered by Link-Up Community volunteers in their dealing with enquirers are being conducted. The training programme will be designed to help volunteers be responsible and resourceful 'friends' to enquirers.
At present we are completing the necessary legal steps in order to register Link-Up Community as a non-profit, tax-exempt company. Under our Articles of Association there is a Council of Management, an Executive, Working Groups, general active Members of Link-Up Community and also Honorary Members. The Council is elected by and from the general membership of Link-Up Community. The function of this Council is to implement the policies decided by the general body of the organisation. It will also be responsible for fulfilling the aims as set out in our Memorandum of Association. Financial matters will be dealt with through the Council. It is also its responsibility to engage the service of an auditor and maintain full and accurate account of monies. At the Annual General meeting it will present a financial and general statement of affairs to the Members. The function of the Executive, which consists of two full-time members on nominal salaries, is to coordinate activities of Link-Up Community and to carry out the normal day-to-day affairs of the organisation in order to provide an efficient programme. It will also be its responsibility to maintain and update files, information and the records of running operations. The general membership of Link-Up Community consists of working groups functioning in the areas of training, publicity, telephone operation, emergency accommodation and particular projects which may eventuate. These working groups will submit their recommendations to the Council of Managemen t for consideration and implementation. The individual general Members will be actively involved in the general operation of the service of Link-Up Community. Honorary Members There is an Advisory Group wh ich consists of professional people from within the social welfare field who will provide advice in specific areas. They will also be active in our learning programme which all volunteer workers are undertaking. There will also be honorary members who may act as patrons.
Link-Up Community will be financed through donations and grants from trust funds. Link-Up Community itself will organise and operate a general fund-raising programme, via benefit functions, internal donations and sponsorship from patrons. All monies are to be paid into the company's trading account. Administration of finance will be by the Council of Management, one of whom has been appointed Treasurer. Accounts will be audited annually by a qualified independent auditor. Link-Up's major expenses are nominal salaries for full time workers, telephone and postage, gas, electricity, printing and general running expenses.