I feel really lucky that through my paid employment and volunteering I have met and connected with so many compassionate, passionate and inspiring people who are committed to their communities. Being active in my community feels like it is an essential part of my life. It’s also something that I want my children to value.
Although my children would often prefer that I don’t volunteer (on the basis that it is embarrassing for them) I firmly believe that the work we do outside of our paid jobs can often make the biggest contributions.
Over the last 10 years I have worked with a passionate community connector, Rachel. Possessing such a diverse range of experience, I have watched her in the community making things happen at the grassroots, delivering projects that connect like-minded people, reducing the socially isolation for our vulnerable neighbours, getting people together where they share aspirations and passion. There are a number of examples to share, however one that stands out is a friendship that my family has formed with a young man we connected with through Rachel.
Scott lives in shared accommodation with people with disability. Through Rachel, we were both involved in a community garden. Our conversations led me to realise that Scott wanted to do a lot of things, but with his restrictions on transport and support, he had nobody to take him. After a few trips to the football together, we soon realised we had more in common, including a shared love of basketball, puzzles, gardening, movies and hot chips, just to name a few.
Scott now spends time with us every week, joining in on activities or simply hanging out as you would with family or friends. What may have started out as helping someone in need has now become much more, as Scott is now an extra member of my family. This experience has taught me to never limit who will make a great friend.
Through Local Area Coordination and the BSL’s intentional approach to community engagement, we will be holding conversations in the communities, asking people what their aspirations are for their community and supporting people to make connections.
There is no right or wrong way of being involved. Start simple, start with something you already know, and start with a smile. You will never know the places you will go or the amazing people who are just around the corner.
If you would like to find out more about the Local Area Coordination Community Engagement work at the BSL NDIS, contact Donna Stoddart on 1300 275 634.