In the Hunter we are always looking for ways to enhance outcomes for local community groups. Sometimes this means we have to think outside of the box and actively support community organisations in a way which offers then more than just a cheque at the end of the year.
A working example of this in practice is the relationship our Maitland Regional office has formed with Castle Personnel Services.
Castle Personnel was born in the Hunter over 25 years ago. During that time they have actively supported people with a range of disabilities to find open employment and reach their independence goals. They strongly advocate for access and inclusion by drawing on the skills and strengths of their participants and allowing each participant a supportive environment to put these skills into practice.
Castle run a program called ‘Castle Transition’ which helps young people who have a disability to develop work readiness skills. Participants are funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and complete on the job training. As part of this program every second Tuesday the car park at our Maitland regional office is transformed into an active wash bay and our team and their dirty cars and are always happy to see the beautiful team from Castle Personnel services arrive.
Across the morning Eden, Hayden and Hamish not only wash away the dirt from my weekend adventures but vacuum up the remaining traces of sand from daycare and popcorn that has snuck its way into my car. They wipe away all those pictures drawn with small fingers on the fog of the windows and locate all those missing toys and shoes that were put into the too hard basket the week before.
When I walked out to snap some photos this week Eden was working on cleaning the wheels on one of our Beyond Bank cars. She didn’t realise I was there at first and she was proudly showing off how shiny her wheel was to her teammates. It makes me feel wonderful to think that the small amount I pay to have my car cleaned each visit is giving young people like Eden an opportunity to gain independence and develop new skills in a field she is clearly enjoying.
This week Natalie, one of Castle Personnel’s ability coaches, accompanied the team. Every step of the way Natalie supports the team’s efforts and applauds their success. The pride the Castle Transition team show in their work shines through and Natalie told me that washing our cars is something her participants really enjoy doing and look forward to.
Car washing is one of a number of activities the team participates in across the fortnight. Having a range of activities allows each participant to gain a broad range of experience and becomes desirable to employers.
A special thank you to Eden, Hamish and Hayden for once again saving my little car from looking more like a rubbish dump and of course for making me smile.