The Little BIG Foundation to build a happier, healthier and kinder community at North Rocks Village

The Little BIG Foundation to build a happier, healthier and kinder community at North Rocks Village

They say that forming new friendships as you get older has never been easy. In fact, it is found that Australians are becoming lonelier, with 30 percent of Australians rarely or never feeling part of a group of friends[1]. However, one new organisation is on a mission to find new ways to bring people together to create happier, healthier and kinder communities.

The Little BIG Foundation (Little BIG) is a registered charity initiated by EG, during the 2020 lockdown, when people were restricted to their homes and were distanced from their neighbours and social support networks.

According to the 2021 Australian Loneliness Report, just over half (54 percent) of Australians reported that they felt more lonely since the start of the pandemic. Loneliness has been linked to poor physical and mental health[2] and can cause people to spiral and experience a general dissatisfaction with life[3].

The Little BIG Foundation aims to interrupt this spiral and create opportunities for people to get out of their homes to reconnect and regain a sense of belonging in their community.

Sarah Mathews, CEO of Little BIG says that EG has always had a strong interest in building communities and Sydney’s first lockdown presented an interesting challenge.

“When the COVID pandemic hit, EG was interested in exploring how people were existing within their four walls.  We started finding new ways to engage with the residents, and helping neighbours to engage with each other. It led to us create a space at the Flour Mill, called the Little BIG House so we could extend the work back into the face-to-face world post-pandemic” says Sarah.

Little BIG encourages mental wellbeing through belonging to realise its vision for happier, healthier and kinder communities.

The organisation launched in May 2021 has an independent board and is run autonomously of the developer to remain active in the new community post-completion of the development.

“We are not a developer or a for-profit business so our motivations are entirely community focused. This gives us the space to curate a newly developed community post-completion. We’re not just activating the space, we are focused on creating events that enhance deeper belonging.

We focus on the little things that have the BIGest impact on people’s lives – a shared sense of identity, kindness of neighbours and place to ‘be’ that doesn’t cost the world” says Sarah.

The Little BIG House, at EG’s Flour Mill of Summer Hill is a space for new and existing community groups to come together and connect through a variety of shared interests or purposes.

Since the space opened to the community in September 2020, it has hosted 90 different programs, over 3000 individual events. We have 16 regular groups meeting and the community has chosen to support 6 philanthropic causes (as of July 2022).

“We have found that the most successful programs have been run by the community. We provide support to the individual to get the initial program up and running and helping community leaders to come forward and grow in that space, volunteering their time and building their connection to others.

With these strategies people will enjoy kinder, happier, healthier lives which is beneficial as it increases mental resilience creating a network around you,” says Sarah.

Following the success of its program in Summer Hill, Little BIG is now setting its sights on EG’s North Rocks Village, which includes space for the organisation to extend their work and empower new and existing groups to connect with their community.

“The foundation aims to enhance what already exists. We will continue to work closely with established local groups Hills Community Aid and Carlingford Rotary Club to share ideas of how Little BIG can fill the gaps to enhance the community’s experience and connection to North Rocks,” says Sarah.

EG’s vision for North Rocks Village includes multiple community spaces to provide for the development of cultural, community and arts programs, including co-working areas and multi-purpose facilities.

EG’s Divisional Director David Workman shares how the Little BIG philosophy has become a key pillar of the way EG approaches its community building.

“EG’s passion for building strong communities and creating a lasting positive impact has been well-demonstrated at the Little BIG House in Summer Hill. We are proud to be setting new benchmark of what a real estate investment fund can deliver and we look forward extending this impact through our future projects,” says David.  

[1] Australian Loneliness Report 2018, Herald-Lateral Economic Index of Australia’s Wellbeing APS 2019

[2] Australian Psychological Society 2018. Australian loneliness report: A survey exploring the loneliness levels of Australians and the impact on their health and wellbeing. Melbourne: APS.
; Relationships Australia 2018. Is Australia experiencing an epidemic of loneliness? Findings from 16 waves of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia Survey.

[3] Schumaker J, Shea JD, Monfries M & Groth-Marnat G 1993. Loneliness and life satisfaction in Japan and Australia. The Journal of Psychology 127:65–71.

We’re creating communities where everyone is known and feels a sense of belonging. The little things make a big difference.

Sarah Mathews

CEO - Little BIG Foundation