A $130,000 funding boost is set to transform production at Southland DisAbility Enterprises.
The Invercargill Licensing Trust and the Community Trust of Southland each approved grants of $50,000 towards the purchase of a new baler, metal press and a van for transporting staff. An additional $30,000 from the CTOS would directly support SDE’s 86-strong workforce with disabilities.
SDE general manager Hamish McMurdo said the funding would make “a real difference”.
“I’m so thrilled that the Trusts are continuing to support people with disabilities in this way. It’s just going to make such a difference to our everyday and really take the pressure off,” he said.
“Finances have been tight for the past few years so it’s been a real challenge to upgrade assets and we’re a busy place so there’s been a lot of wear and tear.
“It’s almost a relief – we’ve known we’ve needed this equipment for such a long time so to see it come to fruition is fantastic.”
ILT president Alan Dennis said SDE was a fantastic organisation which genuinely made a positive impact in the community, reflected in over $300,000 of Trust funding provided in recent years.
“I can’t think of a more deserving organisation because everyone there works their butt off and they just love their jobs,” he said.
“Spend time there and you soon notice this incredible feeling of worth. It’s an amazing workplace.”
With production increasing by over 50 tonnes in the past month alone and prompting the introduction of evening shifts, the new equipment would ease pressure on the organisation’s 20-year-old baler ‘Betty Clark’ – named after it’s donator.
“She’s got really tired old Betty so we need to move her on and get a new baler to keep up with production. While we need a more capable machine, Betty will still be used for softer plastics,” McMurdo said.
“This new baler will also create more jobs and ultimately the purpose of our organisation is to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities in our community.”
Recycling resulted in metal from computers, television and electronic equipment which in the past has been sold in loose format.
“We can get better value out of the product if we process it further and the metal press will enable us to do that to meet the expectations of the market,” McMurdo said.
“We have to keep up with the commercial as well as our social responsibility and if we don’t evolve, we’ll get left behind.”
SDE continued to play a vital role in the lives of people with disabilities and future-proofing its sustainability was a key focus for McMurdo.
“There’s a whole new generation of disabled folk that will need a place to go and this is an investment in their future,” he said.
“The friendship and comradery which emerges here is really special. All of our employees really care for and motivate each other – it’s just so much deeper than work.”