Lifeskills dreams of the perfect disability facility

The team at Lifeskills Plus has a dream - to establish a support centre designed to meet the needs of the organisation’s disabled clients.

The disability support service is currently awaiting the results of a funding submission that would enable Lifeskills to buy the former Clarkson’s Clearance building next to its Southside Skills Centre.

However, the group still has a lot of fundraising to do and work to complete to transform the building’s interior into the ideal facility for Mudgee’s people with disabilities.

Lifeskills currently provides respite care and activity programs from an old converted house in Perry Street, while workplace preparation and advanced skill development takes place across town in the  Southside Skills Centre.

The Perry Street building is not designed for disabled access - there are steps throughout the building, narrow hallways and bathroom facilities that can’t accommodate a wheelchair along with a lifter and two staff members, and the building can only be accessed by wheelchair by following a back lane and crossing a paddock.

Cracks are forming in the walls, and termites have infested the woodwork.

The staff has made do with makeshift solutions to the building’s challenges, securing the kitchen by erecting a gyprock wall, using a removable metal ramp to make the personal care room wheelchair-accessible, and having staff use an outdoor portaloo to keep the facility’s bathrooms free for clients at all times.

Lifeskills manager Carolyn Peek said the dedication and attention shown by staff ensured that clients received a high quality of care at the Perry Street site, but she believed they deserved a building that represented the value and respect they deserved.

Now that the opportunity has arisen to bring its facilities together at the Southside complex, Lifeskills is working and welcoming community support to secure and equip the Clarkson’s building.

“There’s no other building as good in town,” Ms Peek said.

She said buying the building rather than renting one made the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to equip the facility a worthwhile long-term investment.

The current Lifeskills facilities at Southside owe a lot to charitable donations and work volunteered by local tradespeople, and Ms Peek has already taken a call from a local offering to provide the new facility’s concreting and access ramps.

An initial plan for the new facility includes accessible bathrooms, toilets that open onto the laundry in case a clean-up is needed, and a dedicated sensory room, therapy room, woodwork room and craft room, as well as rooms free for other programs.

More accommodation rooms would allow Lifeskills to provide extra respite care for the same funds, and a separate entrance and deck for the respite wing would add to clients’ comfort.

Ms Peek said volunteers did an amazing job in the Southside Skills Centre, running programs including cooking, sewing and music, but the current facilities did not make such visits easy for clients at Lifeskills on Perry Street.

Lifeskills charity dinner dance and auction

Lifeskills will present a charity dinner dance and auction in March with rugby league veterans Alan Tongue, Mario Fenech and Adam MacDougall.

A lively three-course dinner and music by local band Overdrive will be followed by the auction of items including a queen-size quilt made for the occasion by local quilters, a signed and framed Canterbury 2012 premiership jersey, All Stars and Indigenous All Stars jerseys, a party boy pack including a keg and meat and a ladies’ pamper pack, and a $500 hairdressing voucher.

“I just think it’s going to be a great night with the band and the auction,” Ms Peek said.

“A good night for a good cause.”

The dinner dance and auction with three rugby league veterans will be held on March 2, from 6.30pm at Parklands Resort.

Tables of eight are available, and tickets are for sale at Mudgee Bookcase Words and Music, only until February 25.

Trent Barrett and Mario Fenech visited Lifeskills in March, 2012, and Shaun Timmins visited the Southside Skills Centre to talk about health and nutrition.

“Trent Barrett actually left here with tears in his eyes and said they would do anything to help us,” Ms Peek said.

The players will hold a training session before the dinner with local junior rugby league players.

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