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Having a strong purpose in life, often in the form of a career, is something everyone desires.

But for Andrew (42), who lives with an intellectual disability, finding a job where he feels valued and supported hasn’t been easy.

Being in and out of several casual jobs over the years, his struggles with severe mental illness, confidence and communication has made it very difficult for him to keep motivated and remain employed.

His daily medication also causes him to feel fatigued and withdrawn.

For several years now, social services provider AnglicareSA has supported Andrew through one-on-one services and group activities.

Working together with Andrew, support coordinators and workers have helped him move towards his central NDIS goal of securing permanent employment – breaking down the journey into smaller achievable steps so he can celebrate his progress.

This has involved supporting Andrew to understand how to appropriately dress for work, practise appropriate hygiene and navigate the public transport system, as well as build his social, communication, and budgeting skills.

“They take me out to exercise, go for walks, and help with transport to appointments. I’ve also done cooking groups,” Andrew said.

“All of the support workers are funny and nice.”

With support from AnglicareSA, Andrew is enjoying feeling more confident and independent

With Andrew’s burning desire to secure work only growing stronger, AnglicareSA organised for Andrew to have his NDIS plan reviewed to include employment support.

The extra funding allows those living with disability to actively seek and maintain employment and, ultimately, achieve their career goals.

In February 2021, Andrew was offered two weeks work experience at Barkuma in their commercial services arm, which provides general business solutions such as packaging and assembling products for a range of companies.

This initial experience gave him a chance to try different jobs, interact with new people, and get an indication of whether the role was something he wanted to pursue long-term.

Fast forward to today and Andrew is working four days a week at Barkuma’s Holden Hill site – he travels independently to every shift, catching the bus with confidence.

“I started work, and when I did, I was heaps excited and I wasn’t even nervous,” he said.

“I’ve really started to know everybody here and I nearly know everybody’s name.

“I feel like I’m part of the furniture, and the family.”

Andrew packing and organising greeting cards, as part of his new job.

Andrew is part of a team of 60 supported employees, along with seven supervisors who provide mentoring and leadership.

Andrew does a mix of general production from food stocking to product packing. He has been described by his supervisor, Naomi, as a “dedicated and committed team player” who always arrives at work early.

“This is my first proper, real job,” Andrew said.

“I feel happier and more alive – I have more purpose in life and feel wanted.”

Securing employment has also motivated Andrew to quit smoking – addicted since the age of 12, his new job has seen him almost completely overcome the habit.

He said if it wasn’t for the support finding his new job, he would be “stuck at home, smoking and living a boring life.”

“When I wake up, I feel comfortable and confident and I’m being a bit more independent and getting out and meeting new people – much more so than I normally would.

“It’s helped me a lot.”

With a passion for gardening and aspirations to learn more employment skills, for Andrew, the grass is greener than ever.

AnglicareSA continues to support Andrew to achieve his NDIS goals and live life to the full.

“I’m happier than I’ve ever been,” Andrew said.                                                       

“I’d think maybe, I’d like to get an independent job, continue to learn more skills and improve my mental health.”

Andrew is thoroughly enjoying his ”first proper job”.

Live life to the fullest and achieve your goals. Learn more about AnglicareSA’s disability services.