How Another Life and UnitingCare are changing lives one coffee at a time

By Emily Toxward

Another Life Coffee and Wares in Toowoomba has provided a new lease on working life for employees Shelley and Neil.

Shelley had been looking for work “for ages” before UnitingCare’s Employment Services introduced her to Another Life.

“I had a trial the next day and have been here ever since,” she says.

Shelley’s confidence and skills have grown so much under the guidance of cafe manager Bec Mason that she now mentors team members and has started an apprenticeship to become a chef.

And she still receives support from UnitingCare: “I still get a phone call every two weeks to see how things are going and whether I need any support or anything sorted out at work.”

Independence is the goal

The amount of support UnitingCare provides depends on individual needs – some employees might work independently after six months; others may receive support for five years or more.

Neil – who was introduced to Another Life by UnitingCare employment consultant Troy Stubbs – now works almost independently, thanks to mentoring by Shelley and Bec.

Troy says independence is the goal for UnitingCare, and support is provided to both employee and employer.

“Some employers are anxious and apprehensive about employing someone with a disability at the start and sometimes it’s just a matter of educating them around what the disability is and giving them the confidence that our clients can do the job,” he says.

“For employers, managing staff is always a big thing and spending time one-on-one with new employees is not always available, so we go in and offer that support and job coaching outside of work so it doesn’t take away from workers’ productivity.”

Corinne McPhee, the manager of UnitingCare’s Employment Services, strongly encourages other employers to hire people with disabilities, a decision she says benefits businesses.

“They’ll also change a person’s life,” Corinne says. “It could very well be the best business decision you’ve ever made.”

Another Life’s Bec couldn’t agree more. She sees hiring people with disabilities as an advantage not only for employers but for all staff members.

“There’s no limit – absolutely no limit – to what they can do. So, if you’re thinking about employing someone with a disability, definitely get in and do it.”

Find out more about UnitingCare Employment Services.