The first dedicated disability provider on the Peninsula has opened its doors following a grand opening event on Saturday, November 14.
Woy Woy’s Able Futures is a social hub designed specifically for people with disabilities to interact, socialise and learn in a collaborative and fun space.
Chief executive officer Sharon Lee said since starting the business in 2016, the idea has grown from support accommodation on the Peninsula, to now a hub that encourages freedom and choice.
“It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but I’m really proud by the way it’s shaping up,” Lee said.
“Families are starting to say they like our model of care because it is different, and the opportunity is there for people to have an input into what they want it to look like.
“We expect to be evolving consistently, rolling out different programs and hobbies as new people join and share their interests.
“We just want to be a positive part of the community.”
After going to school on the Peninsula and coming back to live in the area, Lee said she was aware there was no service like this for people with disabilities to access.
“We can’t walk away from the fact that for all the services we provide, we are paid to be there,” Lee said.
“This hub is about encouraging people to have non-paid relationships with people that they can just go and have a good time with, without having to worry if they’ve got enough funding.
“We, as a support service, are not always going to be there – we come, and we go.
“But for a person with a disability, they can make some lifelong friends if we support them to do that.”
The NDIS registered hub provides a variety of activities and programs including movie nights, games, karaoke, dances, living skills and hobby groups.
Participants also have access to a car which will be additionally used as a way to learn basic car maintenance.
Lessons in managing conflicts, sex and relationships, rental contracts and finance management skills will also be provided to clients wanting to move out of home.
Lee said connections with local clubs will also be encouraged.
She said she didn’t want to create a day program, operating on a school term structure, but one that is open at night, across weekends and during holidays.
The hub also provides an opportunity for participants to have a break from their families and carers, and vice versa, to help push more opportunities for freedom.
After being in the community service field for 28 years, Lee said she has recognised the shift in how NDIS-registered services must operate to provide the best quality service for clients.
“For such a long time, we’ve told people with disabilities how to live, where to live, what services to go to, and now NDIS asks, ‘What do you want to do?’”
“I’ve seen a lot of different models and projects and I think the one that works best is the ‘most hands off’ model where we really listen to the people about what they want.
“It’s about creating lifestyle choices and allowing people to be curious about life.”
Lee said she is happy for people to come into the Woy Woy hub to have a trial and see if the services are suitable for them and their families.