Access Housing facilitated a Creating Pathways focus group for tenants in our Independent Living Program (ILP) last month.
The ILP provides long term affordable housing for people with severe and persistent mental illness to live securely and successfully within the community. The program provides person-centred support tailored to individual needs and circumstances. Access Housing provides tenancy and property management services and facilitates support for program participants.
The Creating Pathways session invited ILP tenants and Disability Employment Support (DES) providers to start a conversation exploring opportunities for tenants to engage in volunteering, employment and training.
Access Housing’s Creating Choices Officer Alex Kepes commented on the goals of the session.
“What we are trying to do here is plant the seed that our tenants do have opportunities out there, whatever their skills or experience, and our discussions revealed some real examples of this,” Alex said.
“One tenant told us that speaking English as a second language was a barrier to accessing opportunities. However, during the session, she found a volunteering position specifically requiring an aged care companion fluent in her first language.”
The session focused on the points of view of our ILP tenants who shared their experiences with employment and education and the challenges they had faced accessing services whilst living with mental health issues. Alex said this gave DES providers the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the needs and aspirations of our ILP tenants and the practical barriers they faced daily.
“Many of our tenants have qualifications and a lot of professional experience and have faced significant barriers along the way. As we discussed this we found that many tenants had a shared experience of stigma surrounding their mental health. It was important to share that with the DES providers around the table,” Alex said.
Disability Employment Support providers also had a platform to create awareness about their services. One tenant expressed an interest in working alongside his caring role and a DES provider in attendance was able to assist him.
“I learnt that there are pathways I can go down,” one of our tenants said.