We do big things from very little: The well-being of rural neighbourhood house employees and volunteers
journal contributionposted on 2021-03-01, 00:00 authored by Marley BinderMarley Binder, Elizabeth Barrett, Jessica BeattieJessica Beattie
Neighbourhood houses are under increased pressure to demonstrate their value, contributing to rising stress and potentially psychological harm. This research aims to understand what effect working within the rural neighbourhood house sector has on employee and volunteer well-being. A phenomenological methodology was employed using semi-structured interviews. The qualitative interview data were analysed thematically to elicit emergent themes. Participants described how involvement in the sector both positively and negatively influenced their well-being. The two major themes, with associated sub-themes, that emerged from the participant interviews were: (a) ‘interconnectedness and community’; and (b) ‘burnout and stress’. Rural Australians have poorer health outcomes, with these often exacerbated through increased physical-work demands, family conflict and poor mental health. Rural neighbourhood houses are important organisations that engage and connect with those that may be disadvantaged, but this often comes at a cost to those who operate these vital services. A myriad of factors, including funding, isolation, unpaid work hours and lack of support, negatively contribute to the participants’ well-being. The article suggests solutions to improve the well-being of rural neighbourhood house employees and volunteers.