Time for change, Chain of Coins to help centre for people with disabilities

With stage one of its state-of-the art facility almost complete Lifeskills Plus needs to raise a further $600,000 to finish the second half of the building. 

In an effort to do so the disability service provide will host a Car Boot Sale Bonanza and Chain of Coins Challenge at Mudgee Showground this Saturday.  

Weaving two kilometres of silver and gold change around the showground, the Chain of Coin is symbolic of the distance between the existing Perry Street centre and the new Community Centre in Oporto Road. 

Lifeskills business and community liaison officer, Bob Lejeune said every 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces and every gold coin brings the organisation one step closer to its dream building.

“Perry Street was very good to us for a long period of time but then more and more clients came, more people on board and an old heritage building is limited in its capacity to grow. 

“Perry Street itself is for medium and high needs supports and that group has been growing and there was no alternative we had to look for other premises.”

In 2013 after intense lobbying by CEO Carolyn Peek, Lifeskills received $650,000 from the NSW government to purchase a centre that required specialised modifications including ceiling hoists and ramps. 

“Up until now every disability organisation that has been operating [in the region] has been improvising and making do with existing limitations,” Mr Lejeune said. 

“I’m very proud of the difference that’s been made already and can’t wait to see how far we can take the Lifeskills community.”

“Now this centre has been created in such a way specifically for people with disabilities. It is completely purpose built and that’s quite different from improvising an existing building. 

“It is created in such a way that it is always possible to adapt and you can’t do that in a heritage building or even in an existing shop because you are limited by what you are allowed to do by landlords.”   

Stage one of the facility including four respite rooms – two for high support clients – a lounge room, staff quarters and bathrooms, plus sensory garden is expected to be completed by June. 

“There’s a huge shortage and we have only one respite room at Perry Street and that’s very limited,” Mr Lejeune said. 

“So we’ve been having to refuse people, people have had to go to Bathurst, Dubbo just for a couple of days of respite.”

The Chain of Coins is one initiative to raise funds for stage two that will include a dining and multi-purpose room, training rooms, a therapy room, arts and woodwork rooms, offices and administration.  

“It is a real community centre, it’s not just for Lifeskills, it’s not just for people with a disability only, it’ll be available and it’s facilities – the huge training kitchen, multifunctional room, the training room, that will all be available for organisations that want to organise something special.

“CEO Carolyn Peek and the board of Lifeskills is very much adamant that the centre will be a community centre for the whole of Mudgee, Kandos, Rylstone, Gulgong.” 

Mayor Des Kennedy is a vocal supporter of the service that he says makes a big difference to the lives of clients and their families. 

“For too long, the organisation has been under resourced so I’m thrilled to see the current momentum and support that Lifeskills is receiving locally,” councillor Kennedy said.

“I’d like to congratulate the people at Lifeskills for their huge efforts and achievements.

“Importantly, I’d also like to recognise everyone who has supported Lifeskills. Thank you for your generosity.

“I’m very proud of the difference that’s been made already and can’t wait to see how far we can take the Lifeskills community.”

Lifeskills is asking members of the public to bring their spare change to the Lifeskills Car Boot Sale Bonanza event at the Mudgee Showgrounds between 8am and 1pm this Saturday, March 21.

Along with market stalls, raffles, pets and livestock, Brothers 3 will be saying hello and laying down coins between midday and 1pm. 

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