The Thornton Estate, adjacent to Penrith Station is a 40-hectare housing development, master planned by UrbanGrowth NSW (now Landcom) that commenced in 2012. The site was acquired by the state government from the Commonwealth Department of Defence in 2011. Landcom has a policy of providing Community Development Programs (CDP) at these new estates as a means of “kick-starting connection, fostering vibrancy and making a place like Thornton attractive,” according to JOC Consulting who produced the Thornton Community Development Program guidelines.
The Nepean Community and Neighbourhood Services (NCNS) won the tender to run the Community Development Program (CDP) at Thornton and has had in place, a Community Facilitator working with local residents since December, 2014.
NCNS and the two Community Facilitators, Casey and Cinzia over the 3.5 years have nurtured a vibrant, welcoming community at Thornton by working to:
- establish a dynamic and positive identity for Thornton and the residents of the locale;
- create a sense of place, community and belonging among residents at Thornton;
- assist new residents to settle into their new homes and the surrounding area;
- connect new residents with the surrounding communities;
- integrate Thornton with the surrounding community assets;
- assist in the development of a social infrastructure in Thornton which will remain sustainable after this Community Development Program and the construction period come to an end.
The basic philosophy is to create meaningful experiences in partnership with local residents through the creation of events, activities and opportunities suggested by people who live in the Estate in order to bring people together, fostering a strong sense of community, belonging and sharing. Usually, an event will have a planning committee or group of volunteers who drive, steer and actively help the Community Worker run the event on the day. Resident-led activities are vital because the CDP has a finite life (scheduled to finish at the end of this year) but the ideas, skills and enthusiasm to carry on will no doubt remain.
The Thornton Community Group was formed with program sustainability in mind – a group of local residents who would assist in bringing neighbours together to put on events and run classes and activities at the Thornton Community Centre. They might also be able to help keep the doors open at the Centre at specific times during the week to continue offering a welcoming place to the local community and as an information hub for those enquiring about booking the space or wanting to know about services, businesses or “What’s on” activities in the area. Since it’s formation in May 2017, the Thornton Community Group has worked exceptionally hard on a number of initiatives, such as:
- Two Street Libraries (which will be launched soon)
- Release of 2000 bass fingerling fish in the Thornton Canal
- Creation of the new Thornton Social Club
- Working on the establishment of Thornton Community Garden
- Pilot Community Safety project with Penrith City Council
- Cultural celebrations, sporting and family events
- Lobbying work (advocating for the needs of the Thornton residents, e.g.: fighting hard to get footpaths built)
- Looking at re-establishing the Thornton Markets
And it is only with the great enthusiasm, creativity and fantastic support of the local community in the Thornton Estate, together with wonderful sponsors and partners such as St Hillier’s, First Point Property, Morton RE, Link/RMB, Algila RE, Southern Cross Care and Evolve Housing that the CDP has been able to provide 3.5 years of the following activities –
- Movie Nights
- Neighbour Nights
- Halloween Hunts
- Christmas at Thornton events
- Games Days in local parks
- Volunteer and Friends Drinks Nights
- Seniors Festivals
- Auskick Fun Day
- Easter Egg Hunts
- Welcome BBQs and Morning Teas
- 125 Year Anniversary Sheffield Cricket Match
- Chinese New Year celebrations
- Holi Festival of Colours
- Moon Festival
- Welcome to Thornton events
- Community Safety Forum
- Living in the Urban Heart of Penrith Community Forum
- Welcome to Spring Environment Week event
- Annual Clean Up Australia Days and quarterly Clean Up Thornton Days
- Family Soccer Gala Days
And planned, upcoming events include EID Fest, Drive-in Movie Night in one of the developer vacant building sites (pending approval), Christmas Light Show, Welcome Dinner Project (a joint partnership with Joining the Dots organisation and Landcom) and the erection of an outdoor woodfire oven to hold monthly, community bake-offs.
Once the Thornton Community Centre reopens after months of refurbishment works, local residents in the Estate and the wider Penrith City community will be able to attend weekly classes and activities such as Tai Chi, English Classes (beginner and intermediate), Boot Camps, Gentle Exercise classes, Thornton Social Club, Talks, Cooking classes, Organic Farm Veggie Box pick-ups (fortnightly or when crops are available) and Zumba.
Anyone wanting to know more about the Thornton Community Development Program (CDP) or who would be interested in running events, programs or classes at the Estate, can contact Cinzia on 0400 370 059 or email email@example.com
Anyone wanting to know more about the Thornton Community Group or interested in joining this friendly group, can contact the Secretary, Cathy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org