Leanne's story

Leanne gets active in her community with LAC

Leanne is thinking about selling her handmade cards.

“If it wasn’t for LAC (Local Area Coordination) I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’ve come a long way,” Leanne says.

Since her first meeting with Jenny, her LAC, Leanne has found a regular voluntary role, become involved in making Tauranga a better place and is thinking about setting up her own business. She’s also met many new friends and professional contacts.

“I’ve come from volunteering one day a week to doing many active roles in the community and it feels wonderful,” Leanne says.

Leanne was having trouble finding a niche for herself when she returned to New Zealand after 10 years in Australia. She took on some volunteer opportunities and bought a lovely home, but was still feeling lonely and bored.

It was at this point that Leanne’s Mother, Brenda, found out about Local Area Coordination. After attending an LAC open day in Tauranga with the mother of Leanne’s flatmate, Brenda set up an initial meeting with Jenny.

“We had a cuppa and just started chatting about what was going on for Leanne in life and what some of the things were that she wanted to start doing,” Jenny says.

Leanne’s main aim was to find paid work. Jenny helped her to identify the skills she had to offer employers. The two then started to plan the steps necessary to secure a job in Leanne’s chosen field, administration.

“I could see all of the skills that she did have and the next step was to do something formal with them,” Jenny says.

After doing their research, Leanne enrolled in a six-month Certificate In Computing & Business Administration at the local Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

“It was really wonderful. I learned more about word processing, spreadsheets, databases, publisher, emails and other things too,” Leanne says.

Title: Leanne’s story

Leanne is living life her way, with the support of her Local Area Coordinator (LAC).

[The video shows Leanne and her Local Area Coordinator Jenny having afternoon tea together, intercut with an interview with Jenny.]

Jenny Dawber, Local Area Coordinator: We had a cuppa and just started chatting about what was going on for Leanne in life – what things she enjoyed doing and maybe some of the stuff she’d like to start doing.

[Interview with Leanne.]

Leanne: I just wanted to focus on getting out into the community and meeting more people. My main focus was finding paid work.

[Interview with Jenny.]

Jenny: We kind of discussed what Leanne’s done in the past – finding out what are those qualities and strengths Leanne has. I could see all the skills that she did have and the next step seemed to be to get something formal so she had that paperwork which bosses really like. So she was really keen to hone her admin skills so we looked into some of the options.

[Interview with Leanne, intercut with footage of her at a school office and in a meeting at the city council. Leanne uses a wheelchair.]

Jenny’s helped me a lot. Getting me into the wānanga, getting voluntary work at Kaka Street School, getting my name out to the Tauranga City Council with the Disability Strategy Group.

[The video shows Leanne making cards.]

I make my handmade jewellery and handmade cards and I want to sell them so Jenny organised Lawrence (from Inclusion Aotearoa) to come and talk to me about setting up a micro-business. Love working with her.

[The video shows Leanne entering a classroom, and working on her cards again.]

Jenny: I work with people who have a disability and their families to help connect them with their local community.

[Interview with Stephen, the deputy principal at the school where Leanne works, intercut with footage of Leanne going into school in the morning, and her working in the school office with Stephen.]

Stephen Macartney, Kaka Street Special School Deputy Principal: I found it really useful that Jenny is there to support people and families with disabilities and what we especially like here at Kaka Street Special School is that she's available to be able to help lots of the families and the students through a whole range of things.

It’s a really good role – and she approached us and asked if we available to meet with Leanne for her to practise interview skills and look through her CV with her – and from there we identified a set of things she could help us with.

Leanne’s doing some administration work, some work on computers, some correspondence work. She gets on really well everyone actually. It’s been quite lovely. People are pleased to see her. They want to see her around the place and they enjoy having her in the classrooms.

[Interview with Jenny, intercut with footage of Leanne going into the local council office.]

Jenny: Part of Leanne’s journey, I think, has been getting out and about more – like she did become involved in the Disability Strategy through the local council and that was because I was actually approached, working in that sector, as to whether I’d like to be involved and I kind of thought about it and I thought – I know somebody much better qualified to be involved – so I suggested it to Leanne.

[Interview with Leanne, intercut with footage of her in a meeting at the council to discuss the Disability Strategy.]

Leanne: Again it was through Jenny who went to a meeting with Jane and then she approached me and I jumped at the idea.

[Interview with Jane, who Leanne has been meeting with at the council, intercut with footage of the meeting.]

Jane Barnett, Tauranga City Council Strategic Planner: Leanne was involved in the very initial stages, even before we began the formal strategy development, Leanne was a key contact and we talked to her and got advice about how we could do pre-consultation – and then right the way along she was involved in different focus groups and then she has expressed a passion and interest to be involved in the advisory group. It was fantastic to see Leanne working as part of the community and she was prepared to take on any role too and just really was a great assistance to me.

[Footage of Leanne making decorative mirrors, with another woman. This is followed by an interview with Leanne’s mother, intercut with scenes from Leanne at work or at the council office.]

Brenda, Leanne’s mother: We had lived in Australia for 10 years and when we came back we found lots of things had changed – perhaps Leanne had grown out of a lot of the things she had been doing with other organisations, so we had to find a little niche again. It’s certainly helped Leanne get out into the community – things that perhaps I wouldn’t have found, or Gary and myself as parents, found for Leanne.

[Interview with Jenny.]

Jenny: So I see Leanne sitting higher in her chair nowadays. She has a real confidence and a surety about herself.

[Interview with Leanne, intercut with various scenes from earlier, finishing with her and Jenny having afternoon tea.]

Leanne: I’ve come along way in the community from working one day a week to doing more active roles in the community – and it feels wonderful. I’m just really, really enjoying my life at the moment and I just look forward to whatever comes my way this year. Local Area Coordination is the best thing I’ve ever done.

Title: Local Area Coordination (LAC) is part of the Ministry of Health’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People. Visit www.health.govt.nz and search for ‘New Model’.

Alongside her study, Leanne also started thinking about business opportunities. She makes handmade cards at a local card-making group, as well as jewellery in her home workshop. At a conference she saw a person selling their crafts and was inspired do the same. Jenny encouraged her.

“I want to sell them. Jenny organised for Lawrence (who is knowledgeable about informing disabled people about micro-business) to come and talk to me about the steps involved. It got me thinking,” Leanne says.

After finishing her course, the next big step was looking for employment. Using her contacts in the community, Jenny started asking around.

The first opportunity she discovered was at the Tauranga City Council. Leanne was invited to volunteer to be part of the focus groups for the city’s disability strategy. With her newly-honed admin skills, she impressed Strategic Planner, Jane, and assisted her at the Disability Strategy Community Workshop.

“I was really lucky that Jenny put me in touch with Leanne - someone passionate about getting involved in the city and being an advocate for people with disabilities. It was fantastic to see Leanne working as part of the community and she was prepared to take on any role. She was a great help,” Jane says.

With the disability strategy now being finalised, Leanne has the opportunity to be part of an ongoing advisory group, representing the local disabled community. She has also made submissions on the draft strategy document.

“I jumped at the idea to put forward ideas on what I thought could be improved in the community,” Leanne says.

Working on the strategy added to Leanne’s CV and boosted her confidence. She started looking for other work opportunities through her network. Jenny supported her to think outside the square.

“It’s about thinking big and going to the top first and using key people to connect Leanne,” Jenny says.

An interview was set up with the Kaka Street Special School where Leanne impressed the Deputy Principal, Stephen. She’s now assisting staff on a weekly basis in a volunteer role. She writes reports, does filing, makes basic resources and competes other administration tasks.

“She brings all sorts of skills and gets on well with everyone. People are pleased to see her and they enjoy having her in the classrooms,” Stephen says.

Having weekly voluntary work and being more active in her community has given Leanne a new perspective on life. She’s independent, social and she knows what she wants. The change is evident to her family, friends and also to Jenny her LAC.

“I see Leanne sitting higher in her chair now-a-days. She has a real confidence and surety about herself as she takes on things,” Jenny says.

Leanne is feeling positive about what the future holds and is looking forward to working with Jenny on her next big plan – her business.

“I love working with Jenny. I’m really enjoying my life at the moment and I look forward to whatever is going to come my way this year, ” she says.

Local Area Coordination (LAC) is part of the Ministry of Health’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People.

Read more about the people who have started using the Ministry of Health’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People in the New Model People Stories section.

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