Strong Voices

Empowered Lives

March 9, 2021

Guest editorial 

I wish to pay tribute to our former IHC President, Chair and IHC New Zealand Life Member Donald Thompson, ONZM, who died early in February.

It was a great shock to lose Donald so suddenly. He made an enormous contribution to IHC and the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.

But most of all he was a husband, an incredible father and a friend to many of us.

March 9, 2021

IDEA Services and Choices NZ are trialling an extension of the IHC MySupport database to allow the people we support and their families to view their information. It’s important for the people we support to have a good team around them. A big part of this is involving family members at the right time. At present, information such as support plans and goals can only be viewed by staff.

March 9, 2021

Belinda Donaldson is our new IHC i-Volunteer coordinator. Her role is to implement an online/virtual volunteer programme to help link carers and people with intellectual disabilities with online friends. Belinda isn’t new to working with IHC Volunteering and for the past several years has been working behind the scenes on annual customer satisfaction surveys and updating the coordinator manual.

March 9, 2021

Debbie Kennedy has done years of work experience in hospitality and customer service with little pay to show for it. She estimates half of the work she has done has been unpaid.

Work experience can be a trap for people with disabilities if it never leads to ‘pay experience’.

IHC recently tried a new approach to see if Debbie Kennedy, a 24-year-old Dunedin woman, could finally break through the job barrier.

March 9, 2021

Researcher Sharon Brandford is keenly aware of the outrage felt in the disability community over the way New Zealand treats the lives and premature deaths of people with intellectual disabilities.

It was her own outrage that led her to look at how we investigate their deaths.

Her report released late last year, ‘Counting for Something’, says life expectancy for New Zealanders with intellectual disabilities is between 18 and 23 years less than for the general population.

March 9, 2021

Disabled artists came out of lockdown and into the heart of the New Zealand art scene – selling more art than ever before.

Thanks to a brainwave of IHC Art Awards Ambassador Dame Denise L’Estrange Corbet, the three top works in the 2020 IHC Art Awards were auctioned live at Webb’s art auctioneers in Auckland, in association with a WORLD Legacy Charity Project event called Artists 4 Artists.

March 9, 2021

Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the creation of IHC’s property company, Accessible Properties.

Accessible Properties’ first day of operation was 1 July 2010, and as IHC Chief Executive Ralph Jones put it at the time, it signalled “IHC’s intention to increase its participation in the social housing market and provide accommodation for people who struggle to find somewhere to live because of health or disability issues”.

March 9, 2021

David Corner has spent 12 years representing people with intellectual disabilities internationally. He has spent 24 years promoting their rights in New Zealand.

But when the bathroom in the house he owns was renovated last year, he didn’t get to choose the paint, or the vinyl that went on the floor.

David, IHC National Self-Advocacy Adviser, recently gave presentations about self-advocacy at Regional Focus Groups in Auckland, Hamilton, Kāpiti and Christchurch to encourage people with disabilities to speak up about how they want to live their lives.

March 7, 2021

Lisa Holten didn’t imagine that her daughter Sarah would, or could, become an artist. Lisa was caught up in the grind of managing day-to-day services. Like many families dealing with disability funding, she had become focused on services – what was there and what wasn’t there.

March 6, 2021

Sarah Holten-Warren is under attack from the degenerative neurological condition Rett syndrome and is fighting back using her eyes and her art to communicate.

Sarah, 27, a Māori mixed-media artist, was one of five artists in the Studio One Toi Tū Creative Studio Residency last year.

Her exhibition ‘Making My Mark’, in October, is believed to be the first eye-gaze art exhibition to take place in Auckland.

November 30, 2020

IHC has set up an 0800 freephone service – Awhi Connect 0800 442 311 – to give families direct access to support and information.

It operates from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. Callers outside those hours can leave a message, which will be forwarded to staff. Awhi Connect will also operate so that families only need to tell their stories once.

Using a database covering all IHC services involved with the family will provide a broader understanding of the support being requested and provided.

Above: Photo by Berkley Communications on Unsplash.