HUNTER residents living with a disability will now be able to take part in a work-based day program in Warabrook.
The Avenue program, which officially opened today, already has around 50 members taking part in a range of tailored work opportunities.
"This has been years in the making," Avenue co-founder Laura O'Rielly said.
"When we first started Avenue back in 2011 we did a little bit of media and got so much demand from the Hunter."
The original concept for Avenue, Ms O'Rielly said, was based on the experiences of her brother Shane.
"So Shane had cerebral palsy but he was always the funniest and smartest person in the room," she said.
"He grew up with the expectation that he would finish school and go on to work.
"We were shocked to discover that society had a different view of what Shane's journey would be and that there weren't any post-school opportunities for him to work."
With her other brother, Jordan, Ms O'Rielly established Avenue "with a real vision of the kind of work Shane would be able to participate in".
"Avenue is a co-working space where we have multiple enterprises so that people with disability are able to come in and find work that aligns with their goals and their interests."
The Warabrook site offers work for its members in order fulfilment, Hub management, animals, flyers and gigs - depending on personal interest.
40-year-old Julie Clifton, of East Maitland, currently works one day a week in 'order fulfilment' at Avenue.
"I package the items and send them off to Australia Post or the couriers and sometimes I do stock take," Ms Clifton said.
"Sometimes I'll go down to the animal care section where I can pat the dogs for a bit."
Ms Clifton lives with an intellectual disability and hearing impairment.
"It's been hard trying to find somewhere to work because no where has given me the opportunity to show my skills," she said.
"But Avenue is something to come to everyday to boost my confidence and gain important skills.
"Now everyday when I go to the shops I am a bit calmer and a bit less anxious."
One Newcastle start-up which has partnered with Avenue is Borne Clothing.
"Borne Clothing is a social enterprise and we donate 50 per cent of our profit to helping end Malaria globally," Borne Clothing's Dan Robson said.
Having started out as part of a University of Newcastle Competition to "end the mosquito issue", Mr Robson said Borne now sell mosquito repellent shirts that "look good and do good".
"All throughout or supply chain we wanted to be able to maximise our positive impact every step of the way," he said.
"So when we found out about Avenue and the work they are doing we were really excited because it solves an issue for us in fulfilling orders but it is doing good at the same time."
A $160,000 Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation grant helped establish the Avenue space. Charitable Foundation chair, Jennifer Leslie, said the foundation is pleased to help bring this service to the region.
"Our vision is to help re write the future for people in need or suffering disadvantage," Ms Leslie said.
"So when Laura came to us with an application for a grant it really clearly met the vision we were trying to deliver."
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