2016 LIFELINK WINTER APPEAL: Everybody contributes at The Emmanuel Centre
Archdiocesan LifeLink agency, the Emmanuel Centre, helps people with disabilities, such as 61-year-old Daniel, develop skills and friendships in a supportive environment. Photo: Rachel Curry
By Rachel Curry
As part of the Archbishop’s 2016 Winter Appeal for LifeLink, The eRecord is this month taking a closer look at the work of organisations such as Identitywa, Centrecare, Catholic Ministry for People who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired, Daydawn, Emmaus Community, Emmanuel Centre, Centacare Employment & Training, The Shopfront and Catholic Outreach.
Each year, thousands of people walk through the doors of the Emmanuel Centre – a volunteer-run, self-help centre for people with disabilities located near the Perth CBD.
Often described as “the place to contact if you have tried everywhere else”, the centre has a large volunteer base through which information, support, counselling, advocacy, library lending and resources, work experience and training are offered.
This month, The eRecord journalist, Rachel Curry, spoke to Daniel who has been receiving support from the Emmanuel Centre since 1982.
Letting go of preconceptions about what people can and can’t do is at the forefront of the philosophy of the Emmanuel Centre.
Located on Windsor Street in central Perth and largely run by volunteers, the Archdiocesan LifeLink agency has been operating as a self-help centre for people with disabilities for 35 years.
One person who has been visiting the Emmanuel Centre for almost all of that time is 61-year-old Daniel, who was referred to the agency in 1982.
Daniel, who has cerebral palsy, said he kept coming back to the centre because of its sense of community and welcoming environment.
“It’s mainly that you get a relationship with people and see the same people every day,” he said.
“Sometimes, we have arguments but we get over it; we don’t come to blows about it.”
Possessing a sharp wit and dry sense of humour, Daniel has held several jobs at the Emmanuel Centre, including recycling the newspapers and mowing the lawns.
A back injury currently prohibits him from doing any physical work, so he has returned to the familiar role of entertaining people with his stories and songs.
“I’ve got a good sense of humour but it’s not appreciated by some. I’ve told a few lies and a few untruths over the years,” he said with a grin.
According to Emmanuel Centre Co-ordinator, Barbara Harris, Daniel’s storytelling skills are just as good on paper as they are in real life.
“He’s actually a very good writer. He’s got a very quirky way of writing stories,” she said.
Samples of his writing hang on the walls, as do his artistic creations from the centre’s various programs that run on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Mrs Harris has known Daniel for decades and recently helped him fulfill a long-held desire to attain a birth certificate and trace his family history.
She said she had noticed significant change in him over the years.
“He was very traumatised when he came and didn’t have a very good self-image. His confidence in himself has really grown,” she said.
The 2016 LifeLink Winter Appeal aims to raise more than $300,000 dollars for Archdiocesan agencies such as the Emmanuel Centre so that they can continue to help peopleindividuals. Photo: Supplied
These days, Daniel lives in the Emmanuel Centre’s Christian Community and shares his skills with the other people who live there.
He said he recognised that his life was more than just receiving help.
“I receive and I give where I can,” he said.
Daniel’s story is just one of many that demonstrate the importance of the Emmanuel Centre, which is often described as “the place to go if you have tried everywhere else”.
It is home to a number of organisations and support networks, including the Catholic Ministry for People who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired, the Catholic Association for Special Education Support and mental health groups.
Mrs Harris said the centre’s success came from recognising that every person who walked through the door had something to contribute, even if it took some time to develop their skills.
“That’s the uniqueness of the Emmanuel Centre. If you break up a task into small steps, it may take five people to do the job but the joy of those five people achieving something is absolutely incredible,” she said.
“It’s not so much about people having things done to them, it’s about working with people. When we start putting up barriers and having a set idea of what people can and can’t do, it stops our growth.”
Your generous support of the Archbishop’s 2016 Winter Appeal for LifeLink ensures organisations like the Catholic Ministry for People who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired continue their ‘mission of care’ to people most in need in the community.
The goal this year is to raise more than $300,000 to help agencies and organisations that assist people in need in a variety of situations – whether it be in the form of practical emergency assistance or long-term support.
To donate to LifeLink, please visit www.lifelink.com.au.