In the spirit of reconciliation, Westpoint acknowledges the Darug people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which Westpoint resides and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
Here at Westpoint we’re celebrating Neighbourhood Good. We’re proud of our community, and the people working in it to help others. In our neighbourhood, people are creating positive change every day, making lives better, taking care of those in need and creating a place where we all feel safe and welcome. That’s why we’re sharing their stories with you - to show you that there is so much good in our community, and to say how proud we are to be a part of it. Because ours is a place for everyone, where our community comes together.
Meet Kylie Smith, Service Leader at Stride Safe Space Blacktown. Kylie has been an integral piece of the safe space centre since it opened its doors in August 2020. This kind-hearted Blacktown local is passionate about mental health support and removing the stigma surrounding it within our community.
The Safe Space organisation embodies everything we are as a community - a welcoming, comfortable, and safe space where you can sit down and have a cuppa and a chat with someone who cares. Funded by the Primary Health Network, Safe Space is a place for those experiencing suicidal thoughts or emotional distress, who need to access support from professionals in a non-judgemental, non-clinical place. As Kylie explains, “at the end of the day, all someone might need is someone to listen, and to feel heard.”
Kylie is very open about her own personal struggles with mental health. After having her first child, Kylie suffered from depression and felt quite isolated and withdrawn from her community. Looking to create a safe space for herself and women experiencing the same thing, she set up her own support group. This ignited her passion for helping others and she has been involved in mental health work ever since. She tells us, “Being able to use my personal experience and help others is an absolute blessing, and I absolutely love what I do. I feel so lucky and honoured that people can tell me their stories and feel comfortable opening up to me.” Like Kylie, the staff at Safe Space are peer support workers who have overcome their own mental health issues, and while everyone is different, they have strong levels of empathy forged through personal experience.
When asked about the emotional toll her line of work has on her and her personal life, Kylie says, “With the work I do, it’s hard not to bring it home with me”, she says. “But being in this line of work has given me so much meaning, and I can honestly say it feels like I’ve never worked a day in my life.”
We asked Kylie why community is so important, and her answer is simple. “Community is all about connection, it brings people together,” she says. “It’s so important to our mental health - and the thing I enjoy most about community is that feeling of belonging and connectedness.” And she’s right, Stride is a safe place where people can seek support and chill with someone who can resonate and connect with their experiences. There is a real connection in just sitting with someone and having a chat in times of distress, allowing them to be heard and making them feel like they are less alone.
A true Blacktown local, Kylie is passionate about our locale. Kylie explains, “Coming together during times of crisis is what makes the community we live in so special, and the Blacktown community always comes together to help each other out.” Recently, Kylie was chosen as the recipient of NSW Mental Health Commissioner Award for her work in the community with mental health and with Stride Safe Space.
Speaking with Kylie reiterates the importance of community and extending compassion to those you might not know are going through a difficult time. Next time you’re out in your neighbourhood, have a chat with your neighbours and invite them in and check in to see how they are - because that’s what Neighbourhood Good is all about.