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Empowering Lives Through Opportunities

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Our Holistic Empowerment Approach for Inclusive Employment

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We offer personalised assistance that allows individuals to contribute to their communities in ways that align with their values and aspirations.

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We are committed to facilitating opportunities that empower individuals to participate fully in society, fostering inclusivity and mutual respect.

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Steve Hales

Steve Hales

General Manager Atawhai Industries Trust

Since the Trust started operating in 1987 we’ve learned a few things about helping people with disabilities to live an ordinary life. One of the keys to helping clients is a simple one. When someone walks through our doors, we don’t see their disability and what they can’t do, but what they can do. That’s an attitude the community needs to take on. In many ways, it’s about giving people a chance and that’s what this trust is all about.

For clients who access our services we are a stepping stone into employment, community-based activities, skills/personal development and more. I’m very proud of our staff, both past and present, who recognise that everyone has the potential to do something in the way of work, or developing social skills which develop pathways to employment and the community. We don’t put people in cotton wool or treat them with kid gloves; people are people. We don’t treat people differently because they have a disability. Nor do they want us to.

I’ve been here since 1989, and became the general manager in 1997. Trust staff members tend to stay long term; in fact the average stay is about 17 years. Having long term staff is good for our client base; clients are working with people they know. At the moment, we have 35-40 staff, including nine senior full-time staff members. The Trust is contracted by MSD to provide services to 140 clients. We are grateful to the Ministry for their ongoing support.

I would also like to acknowledge the role of our devoted trustees. They are very supportive, and one of the reasons I’ve stayed so long is because we have a close, mutually respectful relationship and that works very well for everyone connected to the organisation.

Linda Alldridge

Linda Alldridge

Co-ordinator Stepping Stones Employment Service

“One is vocational services and the other is the supported employment contract,” says Linda. “We are contracted to find clients work for a minimum of five hours a week, earning at least the minimum wages. In keeping with Atawhai’s trust deed, our clients have an intellectual or learning disability. It really is a stepping stone in many ways. Having it under Atahwai’s umbrella means we really do get to know the people, the community and employers, as well as the rest of the staff.”

We provide clients with ongoing support, which could range from supporting them at interview, through to keeping in close contact with client and employer. We get to know our clients very well, and it’s imperative to find the right match. The reality is we need more employers to contact us. As an example, Pak ‘N Save are wonderful employers, and we have several clients employed there.

“I’ve placed a large number of clients into paid employment in the last decade. For me, the ultimate satisfaction is to get a client happy in work and a satisfied employer.”

After 10 years as the full-time co-ordinator of the Stepping Stones employment service, Linda Alldridge still finds the job immensely satisfying. The initiative consists of two contracts which are delivered on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development.

Board Members

Peter Ertel (Chairman)

Gary Brown

Cam Hart

Suzanne Porter

Netta Burnside

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