Thinking about supported employment for yourself, or someone you know? We spoke to three employees to see what their experience at Challenge has been like so far.
Meet Steve, Sharni and Carolyn. They’re all employees in Challenge Business Services, but their journey is so much more than just a job. Employees at Challenge become part of a workplace where they are valued.
Steve has worked in Challenge for over nine years and currently works full time between Challenge Work Crew and Waste No More. He balances this with being the father of a 15-year-old boy.
“I work in a variety of departments at Challenge,” said Steve. The fact that I can get up and go to work is great. I feel a lot better the days that I work, and it helped me get myself back on my feet after personal issues. I’ve even saved up and been able to buy myself a car – a Falcon!
“I do three days at the Challenge Work Crew and two days at Waste No More. I started in the laundry business at Challenge. Not long after that, I got a phone call to see if I was interested in joining the mowing crew. Now we have a crew of three. I have worked at Challenge for nine years, ten years in December.
“What does a typical day look like? I the Challenge Work Crews, we start with cleaning jobs, such as local businesses and offices. Then we come back, change gear and load up with the push mower, a whipper snipper, and a ride on mower. We do up to 7 locations in a single day. Then we come back and drop off the gear.
“I serve customers at Waste No More all day Friday and Saturday. I enjoy the customer interaction. Push mowers tend to be popular - we can’t keep up with the demand for mowers. Often ladies will come in to buy furniture and do it up. We normally ask them for a before and after picture.
“Yes, I would recommend Challenge for anyone. I believe if I didn’t admit I had a disability, I would probably be unemployed.”
“I had no work and was looking for something. It was actually my mum who mentioned that the laundry was looking for someone. She told me, ‘go and ask them for work, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go.’ I obviously liked it, as I’ve been here ever since.”
“When the laundry closed, I moved to secure scanning, working up to 4 days a week. I actually prefer working more. I sew in my spare time, including patchwork quilts and library bags. I’m trying to save up for a new sewing machine and sell the bags that I make. In my spare time, I also like doing diamond dots.
Pictured: Sharni completing a diamond dots artwork.
“My favourite thing about working at Challenge is covering books and scanning. I also like catching up with my friends at work and listening to their stories. We have a morning tea break and a lunch break to catch up with each other.”
“Before Challenge, I worked at a news agency when I was at school. Then I worked at muffin break and also worked with my dad at the servo. Challenge was my favourite job as I’ve stayed the longest, so I have close connections.
“When I get to work, I put my bag in my locker and talk to my teammates. Then I go inside and start work. At 10 we stop for morning tea then go back to work at 10:15. At 12:30 we have lunch, then go back to work at 1. We then work until 3:30, and from there we get to go home. We get to do book covering, collating (getting staples out of documents, repairing rips, sticky taping little documents onto pieces of paper – preparing it for scanning), scanning. We also do mail out. I’ve been able to work on several small projects and large months-long projects.”
“I am employed as a scanner and collator at Challenge but tend to be a jack of all trades. We collate archive documents which we then scan to digital devices or confidentially shred them. I do whatever needs to be done, whether that’s collating pamphlets and posters into bags or scanning historical documents. I assist Michelle (admin supervisor support worker) with any extra tasks. If I had to pick one task to be my favourite, I enjoy collating and scanning. I like watching the process go through and seeing the results. I’ve seen historical documents that are not in great shape, but by the time we finish scanning them, they are in good shape again.
“In my spare time, I have a large family with six grandchildren, so I’m quite often asked to babysit. I also like to sew and craft and tend to do a fair bit of reading.
“What does a typical day at scanning look like? Most times, I will come in to collate or scan, which involves editing. If other jobs need more hands-on, I can help out with that. I usually do two days of scanning and a day of whatever else is required.
“I would definitely recommend Challenge. The support we get is brilliant and allows us to work to our capabilities. As an example, I cannot do floor cleaning, so the cleaning work and I can’t lift heavy boxes, so I’m helped out with that. I love working at Challenge. Here, we generally have a real family feel.”
Thinking about supported Employment?
How do I know if supported employment is right for me?
There are many reasons that people choose supported employment.
Supported employment is designed to help two types of people:
- People with disability who want a job, but need more support than what’s available in open employment
- People with disability who want to eventually work in open employment, but want to learn some skills first.
- Recycling and confidential shredding
- Manufacture of timber products
- Lawn and garden maintenance
- Product packaging and distribution
- Electronic document scanning