The first thing that strikes you about Amber is her smile. When she flashes that trademark grin, you can’t help but smile too. It’s fair enough. Right now Amber has a lot to smile about. As well as undertaking higher education and pursuing various hobbies, Amber recently found a job she loves – working with older people.
Amber has Down Syndrome and is using Enabling Good Lives Funding through Manawanui to pursue her goals, which included securing part-time employment. “I clean the residents’ rooms and help them eat and hang out with them. I also do a bit of mopping and vacuuming,” Amber explains. “The best thing about my job is hanging out with the residents and taking them for walks around the garden,” she adds.
Amber’s boss, Michelle is full of praise for her newest employee. “She has good rapport with the residents. She treats them with respect and explains what she’s going to do for them and she also follows staff instructions really well,” says Michelle.
“I met Amber two years ago. Amber’s mum rang and asked if we would be willing to take Amber on as a volunteer at the rest home. We went through an interview process with her to make sure she was the right person for the role. She was. She did some volunteer work for a year and a half. During this time we gradually introduced new things Amber could do. We offered her employment a month or two ago,” says Michelle.
Although Amber is loving her job, getting to and from work can be tricky. She lives in rural Christchurch which means there is no public transport and using a taxi is not a viable option for the young woman; it is simply too expensive. Thankfully, through Enabling Good Lives Funding, Amber’s travel costs are met. “For us it was about finding the resources and making sure that Amber can have the same opportunities as if she was living in town. Enabling Good Lives does that,” says Amber’s mum Pippa.
Outside of work, Amber also keeps extremely busy. She recently started doing unit standards training for care of the elderly. Right now she’s learning about the importance of hygiene in preventing the spread of diseases. The course isn’t easy, but no doubt her positive attitude will help see her through. “I’ll get used to it after a while. I like the fact that I get to do it bit by bit though,” says Amber.
When she’s not working or studying, Amber likes playing sports. “I like netball; I like summer sports, rugby, things like that. I like to play with friends or practice on my own.” Amber also loves going drag racing with her dad, hanging out with her siblings and learning how to cook. “I’m doing a lot of cooking right now too, which is good because I love it. I like cooking roast chicken especially.”
Amber’s mum Pippa says that EGL has opened doors for her daughter, allowing access to funding that helps Amber pursue a richer life, filled with activities she loves doing. “With EGL we have a lot more choices; we have a huge amount of support from our coach and navigator. They can come to our home. They get to know Amber; they get to know our family. It just opens up so many opportunities for Amber.”