are-able Social Enterprise Staying Connected Through Creativity

The staff at are-able Social Enterprises knew that social isolation would be challenging to manage for their supported employees, but with some creative thinking, they found ways to safely stay connected. Many of the employees are within the disability services Warrnambool and Hamilton provided by are-able.

The are-able Social Enterprise organisation employs over 113 people with a disability (supported employees) across their six Warrnambool, Terang and Hamilton sites. The enterprises include The Big R’s Shed, Nigretta of Hamilton, E-Waste, Clear Cut, Steam & Clean, The Big Green Shed and Create & Collate.

“The importance of physical health is paramount, but we also know how important mental health is for wellbeing and a feeling of connection and purpose. When the danger of Covid-19 was understood, we closed down operations quickly. We knew we needed to take action to ensure people remained connected and supported” said are-able Social Enterprise Director Jack Melican.

Initially the team at are-able Social Enterprise would call supported employees and their families and carers once per week to check in. During these phone calls, they were also able to get a sense of how everyone was coping.

“We work with some of the most vulnerable people within our community and not all of them understood why they weren’t able to come to work. It was important to us they knew they were missed and when it was safe to return to work, we would be there to see them,” said Jack.

The are-able Social Enterprise team also implemented creative solutions that allowed supported employees to remain engaged with the business.

“We made up activity packs for each of the employees. These included a business-specific find-a-word puzzle, coloring in images of the are-able Social Enterprise Staff and guidelines on hand washing and social distancing.”

The packs were personally hand delivered through appropriate socially distanced visits with the Supported Employees and their families and carers.

“Everyone was excited to see the staff and had lots to chat about. All of the supported employees are looking forward to getting back to work and the packs provided a safe way for them to still engage with their jobs from home,” said Jack.

For the are-able Social Enterprise organisations, the return to work process will be very slow and staggered.

“We’re finding new ways to undertake the everyday work tasks in a safe and socially distanced manner,” said Jack.

If you’d like to find out more or join any of our community-orientated businesses, contact the team at social enterprises!