Help Enterprises receives a major contribution towards its new $3.3 million Centre of Excellence Community Disability Hub.

Help Enterprises receives a major contribution towards its new $3.3 million Centre of Excellence Community Disability Hub, Andrew Sadauskas reports.

Hand Heart PocketHelp Enterprises has received a million dollar donation towards a new $3.3 million disability employment and skills supply chain services hub in the Brisbane suburb of in Crestmead, with the facility to provide a pathway to meaningful employment for students with a disability.

The donation from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland will assist with the purchase and fit out of the new 2,500 sqm supply chain services facility, which will provide valuable work experience and permanent supported employment for up to 100 people.

The hub will feature a life skills training room, a function room, lunch room, storage facilities and administration offices.

Local schools in Brisbane’s Bayside, Logan City and Southside suburbs will be able to refer students with a disability in Years 10-12 to the Centre’s early intervention programs to build skills, confidence, and boost their employment opportunities.

How the new facility fits in with Help Enterprises’ work

Help Enterprises Executive General Manager Innovation and Growth Nunzia Confessore says there have three main parts to Help Enterprises.

“One part is called Help Disability Care, which provides services and care directly to people with disability through NDIS, allied health services, housing, respite services, day programs and lifestyle programs. We run a lot of those programs across multiple sites across Southeast Queensland,” Confessore says.

“Then we have the employment and training part of the organisation, and that’s to help people with disability and disadvantaged individuals to gain employment with other employers. We look after around 10,000 jobseekers at any point in time, and provide them with training and employment services.

“[The third part] is commercial enterprises, and they are businesses within Help Enterprises that have been created to directly employ people with a disability.”

Confessore says there are three main social enterprises within Help’s commercial enterprises arm.

“We have a Help Manufacturing part of that where we make products like mailboxes and bins. We run a number of product lines for things like awnings, etc.

“There’s supply chain services that directly employs people with a disability, and that’s our logistics and transport part. That is run across multiple locations in Southeast Queensland.

“We [also] have a wholesale nursery and a cafe at Eagle Farm where we directly employ people with a disability as well. So we have over 900 staff in total within Help, and 38% of people who work in Help identify as having a disability.”

The Hand Heart Pocket grant will help to build a pathway for young people with disability through this new facility in an integrated way.

“Help commercial enterprises is the social enterprise that will be running the warehousing component of this site, and that’s where we will directly employ 100 people within our own supply chain services business,” Confessore says.

“And then what interfaces with that is that they are supported employees, and so our disability care side of the business provides training and skills development to those individuals.

“Ultimately, if we can build those individuals up to the point where they have confidence and skills, our employment and training division can then place those individuals into open employment.”

A hand up, not a handout

Because Help Enterprises already runs supply chain services, the new facility is building on a proven model.

“We have a very large facility here at Eagle Farm, we run another supply chain services facility at Acacia Ridge, we’ve just finished developing Ipswich, and we have a much smaller facility at Sunnybank Hills,” Confessore says.

“We reached out to Hand Heart Pocket and over a period of time we were able to build a relationship, and from that it became clear that some of the areas they were focused on were very much what Help was doing, particularly around disadvantage youth employment.

“From Hand Heart Pocket’s perspective, it fits very well with the pillars and areas of focus for who they support on a charitable basis.”

Aside from the grant application itself, there were a number of other steps involved in getting the new facility off the ground.

“Part of the whole process was identifying a location that was suitable for replicating a hub like this where there was the most need, and coming up with a solution that was sustainable over the long term,” Confessore says.

“The Logan City area fitted naturally with what we were doing elsewhere, and there was a clear need for creating employment and employment participation for young people.”

The grant is a once-off donation, with the new facility expected to be self funding once it gets off the ground.

“The infrastructure piece is where the gap was. We’re certainly able to be sustained from a service delivery perspective because we run a model that is commercially focused, in terms of sourcing customers who pay for our services, and we deliver services under NDIS,” Confessore says.

“But the infrastructure piece is the big piece that isn’t funded from governments, and it was an opportunity from a philanthropic perspective that Hand Heart Pocket saw that they were filling a gap.”

Confessore’s advice to other similar social enterprises is to be clear about where there’s a gap before reaching out to philanthropic institutions.

“Make sure there’s sound governance in place, make sure there’s a proven model where you have the capacity to deliver what you say you will deliver, and then make sure there’s an alignment of values.”

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