Building independence and fostering a culture of equality forms the basis of a new partnership between Epworth and community service organisation IDV.

Kylie Semple, Epworth Volunteer Services Manager says the new partnership is beneficial for both parties.

“IDV approached me and we agreed to support their participants to gain general life skills and enhance their communication,” Kylie said.

“We have taken on three new volunteers attached to IDV and they are all working at Epworth Freemasons.

“We worked together to find the right opportunity for them and thought volunteering as wayfinding volunteers would be a great start.”

IDV Support Worker Kathie Campbell attends every shift with the volunteers and can be found in the Albert St reception of Epworth Freemasons on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.

Volunteer Alex says he is enjoying directing visitors to their destinations.

“Today I have helped 10 or 11 people in a couple of hours. It’s a little bit tiring, but I enjoy it,” Alex said.

“He had to learn where everything was and picked it up quicker than I did,” Kathie added.

“We have had so many patients and families come up and say how nice it is to have someone ask us if they need any help and they thank us.”

IDV, who supports people with various disabilities including Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities and autism, focuses on building independence.

“The idea is to allow people to learn life skills like basic money skills and how to travel independently,” Kathie explained.

“At the moment, I am driving the volunteers into Epworth Freemasons, but eventually we’ll get the train together and then down the track, they will travel on their own and I’ll meet them at the station.

“I’ll slowly be reducing my support and instead of shadowing them like I am at the moment, I’ll watch from a distance, and they can come up to me if they need support.”

After just one month, one of the volunteers has already expanded her responsibilities, taking on extra jobs like delivering flowers, putting up posters and walking visitors to their location.

It is hoped that the program will be expanded.

“If this is successful, and it has been so far, we will look at expanding to extra days at Epworth Freemasons, as well as at Epworth Eastern,” Kylie said.

“I would really love to have a volunteer program inclusive to everyone.”


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