Now Cabinet Maker, Grateful for Hope Instilled by WDEA Works Disability Employment Team Mt Gambier
When Mt Gambier man Mark was 21, he experienced an accident that meant he had to re-learn how to do nearly everything. Mark’s acquired brain injury made the prospect of a career seem distant, but fast-forward sixteen years later and Mark is a valued employee, working in a job he loves.
WDEA Works Mt Gambier Disability Employment Team Leader Jenny Brown first met Mark in November 2019. Jenny and the WDEA Works team knew that Mark had some experiences with a previous employment provider that had a negative impact on his confidence. When he commenced with WDEA Works in early 2020, they took the time to listen to his story, and to find out what his interests, values and skills were.
Mark wanted to find a meaningful and fulfilling job, but his brain injury meant he experienced some barriers to employment, including hearing loss, perception, fatigue and sensory overload. Finding meaningful employment had been challenging for Mark, but with Jenny’s help, they were able to find a job to suit his skills and capacity.
Mark’s relationship with WDEA Works has been an important part of his journey.
“Our experience with WDEA Works has been like a breath of fresh air after our previous experiences. Jenny and the staff are so friendly, helpful and professional and when you walk into the offices you straight away feel the confidence and enthusiasm they project,” said Mark.
“They really listen to your needs and interests and then go about trying to find employment that will not only suit your needs but will also be enjoyable and rewarding,” he said.
Jenny discovered Mark had a love of timber and had some experience in woodworking and using tools. She decided to find Mark a role and an employer to match his skills and interests. She contacted local business owners Michael and Kate McLean about Mark.
“I spoke with Michael and Kate from ‘Cabinets by Michael’, hoping they could provide me with some ideas or businesses to approach,” she said. “When they learnt about Mark, they immediately said, ‘We’d like Mark to work here!’”
Michael and Kate created a role for Mark who is now working fifteen hours a week with ‘Cabinets by Michael’.
“Mark has filled a position in our business that we were finding hard to fill- somebody who is happy to fill the gap, do smaller tasks yet not relying on fulltime employment income,” Michael said.
“Both our tradesmen and apprentices like having Mark on board as it eases the pressure on them to be able to concentrate on the more intricate tasks, and it’s also nice to see the apprentices sharing what they have learnt with Mark so he can also gain knowledge.”
Mark’s number-one supporter is his mother Julie, who has also become part of his work community, bringing in morning tea and working with Jenny and the WDEA Works team to help him reach his goals.
“Mark is on cloud nine – WDEA Works doesn’t realise how much they have done for our family unity. It’s a relief that Mark now has a solid future and people who care about him,” she said. “Even through COVID19, we have had regular phone calls and updates checking things are going ok. Thank you to Jenny and the wonderful staff at WDEA Works for making the experience a rewarding and enjoyable one.”
Jenny is thrilled the role has worked out so perfectly.
“I touch base with Mark every week. Mark’s mum is also involved in the meetings and is a big support in his life,” she said.
As well as supporting Mark, Jenny also has regular contact with Michael and Kate, who say the ongoing support is very reassuring.
“It’s comforting to us as Mark’s employer to know we have the support of WDEA Works” said Kate.
Mark’s mum Julie says his employment with Cabinets by Michael is the best thing that has happened to Mark in a long time.
“He enjoys going to work every day,” she said.
Michael and Kate are also very happy with the match.
“Mark is an incredibly dedicated employee- he won’t finish the day until the task he’s working on is completed,” Kate said.
“He’s one of the hardest working people I’ve met. It’s given us great pleasure in knowing that he now has a sense of belonging in a team, a purpose and a role in our business. He’s polite, friendly and takes pride in each and every task that he does, we look forward to watching him gain more experience and grow his confidence,” concluded Michael.