November 25, 2022

We are heading rapidly towards the end of year – the weather is supposedly warming up (though I’m writing this in Wellington, where November is notoriously windy and disappointing) and many of us are dreaming about holidays ahead.

At IHC we often talk about the luxury of down time (weekends, time off, holidays and perhaps even retirement) as we know it’s an idea that really only makes sense for those of us who are fortunate enough to work.Strong Voices Summer 22 cover

In this edition of Strong Voices we have some great success stories, of people with intellectual disabilities who are enjoying their jobs and receiving the right support for success. 

Gabe Beyrer found his job at a place he already loved, his local café, where he’s now part of the team. This is changing his life – he can save for the things he wants, is learning new skills and can even see more ways to contribute and learn. Having a job is providing him with independence and choice – all because he had the right support and was given a chance.

The right support is key, and our teams in IDEA Services and Choices NZ work hard to connect people with opportunities and the right support to make sure nothing gets in the way. So that when an employer and an individual are ready to take a chance, it’s all go. 

IHC has been involved in setting up a great new app called Stand Tall, which helps people learn to manage their money and budgets in a game setting. A group of individuals were pulled together to test and provide feedback, and a number of them have secured work as paid testers, in animation and even as a voice-over artist.

We also have the story of a Dare to Dream winner who has set up a training café to show employers that young disabled people make great employees. You can also read that a coffee cart was just the beginning for entrepreneurs who have added a drive-through hāngī and a contract with the Ministry of Social Development to train 30 young people in horticulture, hospitality and social care in Northland.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate is at its lowest since Stats NZ started monitoring in 1986. So let’s be clear: it’s time to shout even louder about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities for the good of the individuals, businesses and the economy. We must encourage employers to take a chance and support individuals in grabbing those chances with both hands. 

Then perhaps we can all take it in turns for a well-deserved holiday.

From all the team here at Strong Voices and the wider IHC team I would like to wish you a happy and safe holiday season, and for those of you who celebrate Christmas, Meri Kirihimete.

Gina Rogers