The City of Sydney and St Vincent de Paul Society are working together to help change the lives of people with a disability by increasing community ties.
Murray Chatwin, a sporting enthusiast from Redfern has ‘come out of his shell’, made new friends and gained confidence since working as a volunteer assistant two nights a week at the City’s KGV Recreation Centre in the Rocks.
The 35-year-old has an intellectual disability and described himself as “shy” and lacking confidence when he joined the Ability Links program six months ago.
“Monday night is soccer night and I get the teams to sign-in and I also count the score,” Mr Chatwin said.
“Thursdays is basketball where I also do the scoring. I suppose I enjoy the volunteering because the people are nice to me here and I feel like part of a community. I’m not so shy anymore."
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City was committed to supporting programs such as Ability Links, which help ensure more people in the community feel included and accepted.
“The City is proud to support the Ability Links program, which increases community connections and improves the quality of life for many people,” the Lord Mayor said.
“We are working hard to ensure Sydney is a more welcoming and inclusive place for everyone to enjoy and access. With guidance from our inclusion advisory panel, which is made of up people from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences, we are helping everyone to meet their potential through opportunities.”
Ability Links NSW supports people with a disability, their families and carers to live the life they want, as valued members of their community. It does this through linking people to their local community, building on their strengths, further developing confidence, setting goals and planning for the future.
Through local linkers, Ability Links NSW also supports local businesses and communities to become more inclusive.
Ability Links NSW is an initiative of the NSW Government’s Department of Family and Community Services, Ageing Disability and Home Care.
St Vincent de Paul Society Ability Linker, Grace Burns, said Mr Chatwin was linked to the KGV Recreation Centre because of his love for sport.
“Murray jumped at the opportunity to be involved in supporting a local sports centre,” Ms Burns said.
“It’s been a great experience to join Murray and watch his confidence and happiness grow in this new role with the KGV Recreation Centre. The relationship between Ability Links NSW and the KGV Recreation Centre has been very positive and we have learned together how best to support everyone involved.”
The KGV centre's management have provided Mr Chatwin with thorough training as well as the option for further support if required. KGV and Ability Links NSW have worked together to build an inclusive culture for people with disability to feel welcome and valued.
Ryan Nance, an Ability Linker, also works with Mr Chatwin and staff at the centre: “The most rewarding part of working alongside Murray on his social goals came during a conversation at the KGV a few weeks after he had started volunteering there.
“Murray told me how much he enjoyed coming to the KGV, and I had asked him why that was. Murray replied, in a measured and sincere voice, ‘Because I am included’.”
For media inquiries: City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Jodie Minus 0467 803 815 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore: Paul Mackay 0432 182 647or email email@example.com
For St Vincent De Paul Society media, contact: Dominique Pendleton 0417 446 430 or Dominique.firstname.lastname@example.org