Nailing inclusion with Activ customers

A group of Activ customers from our Beaconsfield hub have been attending their local Men’s Shed to create beautiful handmade projects, learn important skills and make the most of the opportunity to socialise.

Fremantle-based support worker Peter Foley takes four Activ customers to the Shed on Mondays and another client on Wednesdays where they are supervised in the use of hand tools, sanding, hammering nails, and applying adhesives.

“They’re very hands-on,” says Peter. “We make a variety of things including furniture for houses, chopping boards, a coffee grinder, and recently we completed a big butcher’s block.

“The Freo Men’s Shed are very inclusive of people living with disability and the guys have great fun, with full supervision at all times. Some have even assisted on the bigger pieces of machinery.”

Customers work on items as small as jewellery boxes and as big as stage props – the most recent being a ‘Tardis’ for the Activ  Heartbeats annual performance.

They also complete complex tasks including the recent repurposing of a donated 1930s cabinet with leadlight doors into a hall stand.

You’ll often find the Activ customers chatting with other Men’s Shed members, watching them perform tasks, and even lending a hand to help. Peter, an Activ staff veteran of 37 years, says it’s wonderfully heartwarming to see how his customers have become valued members of the Shed.

The Activ Men’s Shed program is run at low to zero cost, with Activ customer members selling most of what they make to contribute towards ongoing membership. The pieces produced are displayed at the Beaconsfield hub’s shop area and all proceeds go straight back into the program.

Activ CEO Michael Heath is thrilled to see staff take the initiative to create wider opportunities for Activ customers to live a full life. “We are incredibly lucky to have people like Peter on our team – activities like this speak volumes to their commitment to their clients – not to mention their job satisfaction,” Mr Heath said.

“Our staff members are as diverse as our clients and Activ will always support them to bring forward any ideas they might have to enrich clients’ lives.”

Men’s Shed spokesperson Rob Chapman regularly supervises on Mondays. “Having the Activ customers here has been just great,” says Rob. “They’re a good bunch, helpful and curious about what we do and they are valued Shed members. Some of the things they’ve done at the Shed just blows us away.”

The value of the program is reflected not only in the pieces produced at the Shed but the happiness of the clients. “It’s really satisfying,” says Peter. “Nothing better than going to work and at the end of the day the people you’ve worked with go home with a smile on their face.”