And the winner is…. Mai-Wel Disability Services

On Saturday evening some of our team members dusted off their RSA’s and ventured to Maitland Town Hall for an evening of arguing. While a night filled with arguing may not seem like the most appealing way to spend an evening, Maitland residents had different ideas and Mai-Wel’s comedy debate attracted over 270 guests who couldn’t wait for local and national celebrities to go head to head to decide if ‘Everyone is a winner’.

The comedy debate took all sorts of nasty twists and turns which kept guests giggling. From local journalist Aaron Kearney sharing far too much information about his bedroom behaviour to Triple J presenter Gen Fricker comparing CrossFit to a cult this debate had it all. Minties were thrown at spectators and hecklers were skillfully reduced back to their chairs MC and adjudicator Dan Cox managed to keep some of the highly inappropriate jokes at bay however it was hard to tell if he was simply adding fuel to the fire.  It’s safe to say event guests were thoroughly entertained and left wanting more.

Some of our Beyond Bank team members were recruited as volunteers for the evening. They supported the event staff by assisting with setting up the function space prior to the event and on the evening sold raffle tickets, ran the bar, supported with meal service and on conclusion of the evening helped to pack away.

Beyond Bank has been a long term supporter of the Mai-Wel group who are applauded for their commitment to inclusion and their desire to approach the disability sector in an innovative and refreshing way. The service has been instrumental in their transition to work programs which aim to empower their participants to engage in employment opportunities. The best thing about these programs is that they draw on the strengths of the participant and in turn offer independence, resilience and growth.

Over the years the Mai-Wel has grown to include a range of small businesses which assist in funding the organisation’s programs and services. These small businesses in turn provide employment opportunities for participants who are enrolled in their programs. Timesavers offer a range of printing and shredding services to the local public while PACE setters utilizes timber, light engineering, metal and fabrication to create a range of consumer products and services. Having this versatility allows participants to engage in work and study opportunities that are of interest to them instead of having to partake in something simply because it is the only thing available to them.

Showing their dedication to a strengths based program participants at Mai-Wel are also offered placements across a range of industries which sit outside of the Mai-Wel umbrella. At the moment they have participants working in childcare, retail, real estate and hospitality. To ensure that this is a smooth transition and to provide participants with the best possible chance of success Mai-Wel support workers offer on the job support. This might mean they accompany the participant to work, assist with training or offer ongoing support. While many participants attract some form of NDIS funding it is simply not enough and like many not for profit organisations Mai-Wel relies on grants, funding, fundraising, donations and volunteers to keep their doors open and their amazing programs operational.

During the comedy debate Mai-Wel unveiled their newest project. “Thrive” is a small but fully functional café which will be opening in the Maitland area in the very near future. Locals will be able to utilise the space for meetings, lunch dates and to get that necessary morning caffeine fix. Over the past twelve months participants at Mai-Wel have been studying their hospitality certificates and have gained valuable on the job experience ready to open the doors to the public. Thrive team members have been making lunch orders for Mai-Wel staff for months and will soon offer this same service to local businesses. To showcase their skills participants in this program catered dessert for the 270 guests at the comedy debate. Their deconstructed passionfruit cheesecake and black forest cake received rave reviews from guests at the event who were looking for seconds. Showing their versatility the team catered for dietary requirements by making a blueberry cheesecake from cashews meaning it could be enjoyed by both vegans and celiac- they proved through this gesture alone not only that they are incredibly skilled but that they will be competitive in the local café scene.

Gen Fricker captained the negative team to victory by successfully arguing that not everyone is a winner. However it is unlikely that Mai-Wel’s participants would agree.

Mai-Wel is a recipient of Beyond Bank’s Community rewards program. To support them and help them on their journey open a Community Rewards Account and nominate them as a recipient.