Finding employment during lockdown no match for Kelly’s enthusiasm

Kelly stands in her uniform outside Squash MelbourneHaving previously held employment earning a subsidised wage, 45-year-old Kelly felt the urge for something bigger.

In September of 2019, Kelly, who is living with Down Syndrome, reached out to WISE Employment for assistance in finding a permanent position. Wanting to earn a regular income and claim a sense of autonomy, Kelly soon landed herself casual employment with Squash Melbourne.

“When Kelly first joined WISE, though she had little experience, her eagerness to learn and find a position was everything we needed in a successful applicant,” says Zilan Cen, Kelly’s WISE Employment Consultant.

It all started with Kelly and Zilan curating a list of potential job opportunities. With a passion for hospitality and working with people, Zilan assisted Kelly with outreach to local businesses and cafes, though due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Kelly had difficulty securing a job interview.

“Though we were in lockdown when Kelly was seeking employment, the additional time proved helpful to narrow down what type of employment she was looking for. We later approached Squash Melbourne for a cleaner position, and it happened that the owner Ina had a brother with Down Syndrome too. Finding an employer who understands the individual’s needs meant that Kelly’s duties were tailored to her ability,” said Zilan.

In her role, Kelly is responsible for keeping the squash courts clean and packing the dining area down after team practises.

“My job means everything to me! During the lockdown period, I found it hard not going to work and seeing my workmates. I love that I’ve found a new group of friends, and I feel so comfortable in my employment. I love the responsibility of my position, and being able to save for things I can call my own,” says Kelly.

Since Kelly began working with Squash Melbourne, Zilan has seen remarkable growth.

Kelly is laughing with her two employers on the courts of Squash Melbourne“Kelly came to WISE with little on her resume, but that meant she had the opportunity to try new skills and explore career options. She was excited by the prospect of finding a position, and after a few months, Kelly had settled in nicely. It’s a very big achievement and we can see her life is moving forwards in a positive way.”

Zilan provides ongoing support for Kelly, speaking weekly and attending each shift to assist her with her duties.

“It’s important for Kelly to feel supported, even now that she’s secured employment. Each week I will collect Kelly from her home and we attend her shift together. Ina will create a list of daily duties and one by one we work through them together, ticking them off as we go,” says Zilan.

“WISE has been incredible throughout this process. Not only did they help find me my position at Squash Melbourne, they supported me through training and continue to provide assistance with my shift each week,” said Kelly.

Watch Kelly’s interview on 9 News for International Day of People with Disability.

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