Nicholas Street Precinct is more than our emerging city heart – it is a community. And no one understands the importance of community more than Michael Anderson, affectionately known as Mando, one of the driving forces behind Our Neighbourhood.
In a welcoming space newly established in the heart of the Nicholas Street Precinct, Our Neighbourhood is collaboration between business and not-for-profit that offers “coffees, cuts, and uppercuts” as their way of bringing people together from all walks of life in a safe and supportive environment. The unique model is providing a roadmap for what being a good neighbour can look like for businesses.
“At Our Neighbourhood, mixing business and community is not just our operating model, it’s a way of life,” Mando said.
“We are a collection of everyday people who have a passion to pass on good things to others.
“We are convinced that it is better to live in a community than to journey alone, and our hope is that by providing a place of belonging, it can help people to overcome issues of loneliness, isolation and depression.”
At the front of house is Oikos Café, already renowned for delicious food and coffee from their first location on Limestone St. The family-run business strongly believes in community supporting community, which is clear in everything they do from how they source their supplies to making every person feel welcome at their table.
The second business in the hub is Cornerstone Barbers, established in three locations across Ipswich.
The team believes in honouring the traditions of barbering, but with a modern urban twist, and are passionate about empowering and creating a safe space for men.
Together, these businesses help to support the not-for-profit gym that offers boxing, personal training and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the back of the community hub. At NBHD training, the focus of the expert trainers is squarely on developing champion people.
“We have a particular passion to help young people who are on the brink of, or have been caught up in, the cycle of detention,” Mando said. “Our vision is to raise up leaders who will in turn go and help others.
“Through the generosity of our partners, Oikos and Cornerstone Barbers, as well as donations through Ipswich Connect, we aim to provide a community for anyone who walks through our doors.
“We strongly believe that providing a sense of belonging where you know good people are there to help and support you, is what can turn people’s lives around.”
Our Neighbourhood at 34 Nicholas St is now operating.
Three Questions for MANDO
Why did you establish your business in the Nicholas Street Precinct?
For us it is crucial to be in the heart of the city. What we’re building is a community where you are known, where it’s felt when you show up – and when you don’t.
That’s important, because it’s by regularly showing up that you build relationships, networks and ultimately the community that we’re striving for. To build that community we need to be in the middle of what’s going on, in the centre of the city where people come to meet.
Not only that, we do a lot of work with at-risk youth and those in detention centres, so access to the train station is vitally important as well as the police station and court house.
Some of our community come from Rosewood or further so public transport access is vital.
What excites you about having the Neighbourhood in the precinct?
The people we engage with every day. Our whole focus is bringing good humans together. Philosophically, we believe strongly that most people want to be good and do good.
And there are so many legends that are now connecting through Our Neighbourhood. Importantly too, they’re from all different walks of life.
That diversity is so important because it’s bridging different worlds. Whether it’s people experiencing homelessness, working with council, or building partnerships with businesses around us, this diversity makes us all stronger.
What’s the future looking like for the Neighbourhood in the precinct?
The future is really exciting for us. Again, it is all about people. More members at our gym, more mentoring opportunities, building more partnerships, more profound pathways for young people. All of this is in our future here in the precinct.