“When my kids reached an age where they were independent enough, it was time for me to look at getting back into the workforce,” he says.
“Helping someone get a step up in life, giving them the best chance to grow and guiding them in the right direction is something I felt I could do.”
Upon hearing about Bedford’s Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) course through his jobactive provider, Ben attended an information session in Salisbury North and enrolled soon after.
“It was a really good group of people and there was no such thing as a silly question” he says. “It was a friendly and open environment and I really enjoyed it.”
Ben says he knew he was on the right track once he started his placement at Bedford Elizabeth.
“Doing my on-site training confirmed for me that this is the work I want to do,” he says.
“The work experience placement really drives you to work harder during the course and motivates you to get through the bookwork.”
After graduating, Ben joined Bedford in January as one of the organisation’s first community disability support workers, supporting participants in the northern Adelaide area.
A typical week could see Ben running cooking classes at Elizabeth, spending one-on-one time with clients and taking groups out for ‘Social Saturdays’; and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“This type of role is perfect for me,” he says. “While my schedule can change from week to week, I could do one or two shifts a day, which range from three and six hours, to eight on Saturdays, which all adds up,” he says.
“It’s great being out and about and not in one place for the whole day. I enjoy the flexibility.”
Ben says there’s more to social activities than meets the eye.
“A cooking class isn’t just about the cooking – participants are also memorising words and measurements on recipes and learning to work with others in a group environment,” he says.
“Going to the food court isn’t just about getting lunch – it’s also about building participants’ confidence to ask for their own meal and working on their money handling skills.”
Ben says helping others realise their potential is just one of the rewarding parts of his job.
“For me, it’s about showing people they can do anything and they aren’t limited in what they can achieve. When I see someone achieve a goal, I feel proud to have been a part of that.”
“I tell others that I get paid twice; once with money and once with good feelings.”
Ben is quick to encourage others to enter the industry.
“I would tell others thinking of getting their qualifications and entering the sector to ‘just do it’ and give it a go,” he says.
“Everyone is lovely and I haven’t had a bad shift - how can you not smile and be happy at work when you have such a good time with the people you spend your day with?”