Have you come across Willoughby’s fabulous Community Flower Studio? They often have pop-ups on Willoughby Road and hold floral-based events — all to assist disadvantaged young people.
The Community Flower Studio (CFS) in Willoughby has been winning hearts ever since it first launched in September 2019 as part of the Spring Fair at Willoughby Uniting Church. The not-for-profit social enterprise was founded by Dr Bibiana Chan to sell floral arrangements, indoor plants and art pieces to the public while staying committed to helping disadvantaged young people.
How did the Community Flower Studio Start?
“After watching the episode, I made a trip to Canberra in April 2017 to pick the brains of the three ladies behind GG’s Flowers,” says Dr Chan. GG’s Flowers’ goal to help young people with Down Syndrome find meaningful employment really resonated with Dr Chan.
“As someone with lived experience of clinical depression, I was fortunate enough to work at the Black Dog Institute with colleagues who understand that mental illness is very common,” Dr Chan explained. “Many employers are not so open to employing someone with a mental illness diagnosis. This is why the CFS would like to be an advocate for mental health education and promotion.
According to Beyond Blue, one in seven Aussies will experience depression in their lifetime and one in four will experience an anxiety condition in their lifetime. The stats clearly prove why mental health can’t be overlooked.
“I often explain to people who visit our pop-up shops or attend our creative workshops that the CFS is a mental health program in disguise,” Dr Chan says.
2020: A Tough Time to Bloom
Although the studio’s initiative is both heartfelt and inspiring, it hasn’t been a smooth journey for the team since launch. “The first 12 months for the CFS were not at all smooth sailing,” Dr Chan explained.
“Just as we were ready to launch a series of creative activities and events, COVID-19 lockdown hit Australia. However, we survived by creating our monthly newsletter to keep our members connected online.”
The CFS hosted an ‘Out of Hibernation Gathering’ (observing all social distancing rules) on 3 July to re-launch its program. One year on, it has been successful in assisting two young men and one young woman find full-time employment in a field they enjoy.
Supporting the cause
There is an important message Dr Chan and the CFS would like to share with the community:
“Human resilience is incredible, with the right support from the community (the CFS logo says it ALL), mental health challenges can be overcome. Everyone can be a contributing member to society when given the opportunities!”
Please keep an eye on their social pages for ways to assist, events in which you can participate and pop-ups where you can buy their beautiful plants and flowers!
Phone: 0412 613 073
Do you love a story about people in our community doing great things? Have you met Chris and Olga from Pass it On who take your unwanted clothes and put them directly in the hands of the homeless and disadvantaged. Click here for more.