Natalie's determination means she can now afford Christmas and birthday gifts for her kids.
Natalie joined Castle DES services, presenting with severe mental health challenges, illiteracy and high anxiety. She was separated from her children, and unable to manage her financial affairs.
Castle supported Natalie to secure safe housing, a First Aid qualification, driving lessons and Police Check, before marketing her to suitable roles, and successfully gaining employment.
Natalie is now permanently employed, allowed unsupervised visits, managing her financial affairs, and can now afford birthday and Christmas gifts for her children.
Central Coast mother Natalie is 37, and lives with severe mental health challenges, anxiety, literacy and communication issues, and low self-esteem.
She presented to Castle Gosford's Disability Employment Services (DES) team in September of 2021, during a COVID-enforced lockdown, in search of support to find a job.
At the time, Natalie was separated from her 5 children, only able to see them on supervised visits, had insecure housing and was unable to manage her own financial affairs.
Natalie's barriers were complex and significant. She initially struggled to keep eye contact. She now has a permanent smile on her face!- Susan, Castle Employment Case Officer
During the initial phase of DES support, Castle's Employment Case Officers focus on preparing participants to become job ready, by assisting them in a range of aspects that may affect a person's ability to find a job, including:
resume building, job search skills, applications and interview skills
qualifications, training courses, certificates
referral to suitable partners to address personal barriers
assistance with transport, housing, finance, and many others
Natalie was supported by Susan (Case Officer) to secure safe and stable housing, obtain a First Aid Certificate qualification, Police Check and access driving lessons.
During this time, Susan also worked in conjunction with Natalie's community support worker Jessi, via external NDIS support provider, who assisted Natalie day-to-day in the community.
After several months, Castle's Employment Account Officers began the next phase of Natalie's journey, by marketing her to potential employers.
Castle assisted Natalie to build her resume, search and apply for suitable jobs, and along with her NDIS support worker, arranged and attended job interviews.
Natalie expressed interest in a number of roles, including cleaning and hospitality.
In March 2022, Natalie was successful in obtaining employment as a Catering Assistant with Catering Industries, a provider of catering services to Salvation Army Woodport Aged Care at Erina.
The next phase of Castle's DES model focuses on ensuring a job is sustainable by supporting participants once they secure enter the workforce. Castle's Employment Support Officers, like Alice, make sure the role and workplace are the right fit and address any ongoing concerns or issues.
To support Natalie's complex barriers, Alice worked tirelessly with her onsite during every shift, day, night and weekends, for the first 6 weeks of her employment, and then ongoing until she felt comfortable and confident in her role.
Alice worked with Natalie's employer, to put in place systems to help manage literacy and numeracy barriers, to ensure Natalie could perform the essential duties of her role.
Castle also supported Natalie with transport to and from night shift, due to her reliance on public transport.
In July 2022, Natalie was delighted to share the news that she had been approved for a private rental property, which had more space for her to have her kids to visit.
Natalie's stunning transformation
Natalie progressed so quickly that before long she was picking up extra shifts, completing additional training courses, and attempting new tasks that she thought she would never have been able to do, such writing on food labels.
In July 2022, she was delighted to share the news that she had been approved for a private rental property, which had more space for her to have her kids to visit (as well as successful in gaining her driver's license!).
At this time, Natalie was also approved by NSW Trustee and Guardian to self-manage her own finances, due to her demonstrated ability to keep on top of her budgeting and improving numeracy skills. She was so passionate about improving her literacy and numeracy that in October 2022 Natalie asked to be supported to find a second job, securing work as cashier.
In August 2022, Natalie was pleased to be able to purchase birthday gifts for her eldest child’s birthday milestone and was able to continue this with her other children.
By Christmas 2022, she was able to have her first home visit with her children and be able to give them Christmas presents.
Not even 12 months after starting work, Natalie has increased her shifts, working up to 38 hours a week, and due to her reliability and flexibility, has now been made permanent.
"Having a job has allowed me to reach all of my goals for 2022. I've moved out of department housing into a private rental, I'm managing my health well, I am able to have unsupervised visits with my kids, and I now have my drivers license."
Having ticked off all of her goals for 2022, Natalie is now working towards her goal of taking leave to enjoy a holiday with her children.