Gavin is waiting to see the world

May 26, 2022

Travel and tourism student Gavin Allpress plans to see more of the world one day and to help other disabled people travel more easily. With strong ambition and support from IHC, he is working on his life plans.

Gavin, 35, uses a wheelchair, and finding accommodation was difficult and expensive in his home town of Auckland. He shifted to Hamilton, but the story was the same.

“It was the housing shortage. There wasn’t any suitable houses or suitable price range for me to live,” he says, Gavin ended up in emergency accommodation in a motel.

In 2019 Gavin moved to Christchurch to enrol at the Ara Institute of Canterbury to study travel and tourism, booking into student accommodation at the YMCA Christchurch. However, his room was on the third floor, and he was at risk of not being able to exit easily in an emergency.

Gavin says he lives with ADHD and medical conditions affecting his bones. He doesn’t have to use his wheelchair all the time and manages to walk short distances at home. He knew, though, that he needed more help. He approached LifeLinks for a needs assessment and a couple of weeks later he connected with IDEA Services’ Supported Living.

“That is when I met Ian,” Gavin says. “Me and Ian have been working together ever since. It’s goals and laundry and that kind of thing.”

IDEA Services Support Worker Ian Whittle suggested applying to IHC property company Accessible Properties for somewhere to live, and after that life began to get better for Gavin. He is delighted to finally have an accessible home that he can afford.

“In July 2020 that was when I got my house, after the first lockdown. It’s good. It’s really good. I like it because it’s close to everything.”

Ian says he works with Gavin mainly on his fitness and social connections – “ultimately to try to create a natural expansion of his social circle. He likes to keep to himself”.

“We were looking for some things for me to do,” Gavin says. “That is when I met Sheridan and Sheridan also connected me to Jo from Choices.” Choices NZ is an IHC company providing flexible support and access to community services to help people with disabilities and health-related conditions achieve their goals.

IHC Family Liaison Sheridan Myall and Choices NZ facilitator Joanna Hannah are now part of Gavin’s support team. Joanna helps Gavin with his job search and Sheridan focuses on community connections. Sheridan started with one issue that was standing in the way of Gavin getting a customer-facing role. He didn’t have teeth. He’d had them removed after repeated infections.

Sheridan applied for funding for him from Mike Pero Real Estate in Christchurch to pay for dentures.

“When I first tried them, I got a bit of shock. A good shock,” Gavin says.

Gavin has passed his Level 3 and Level 4 travel and tourism courses and is now planning to study for Level 5.

Ian says Gavin has the skill base and the drive to achieve a lot. “He has done so much for himself. He has really been a go-getter.”

Caption: Sheridan Myall, Gavin Allpress (centre) and Ian Whittle work on Gavin’s travel plans.


This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members. Read the full issue of Strong Voices or view more articles.