Helping hands wanted

by Kent Caddick

A Selwyn group, whose aim it is to support young people with disabilities, is calling on local businesses to offer up work experience to help the youngsters become part of their local communities.

The Selwyn Launch Group was formed in 2013 with the goal of supporting young adults with disabilities, such as autism and Down’s syndrome, living in the district.

Founder and current chair of the group, Sandra Gilmour, said their aim is to see these young people with disabilities living as independently as possible with meaningful employment and a good social life.

“We would be very interested to hear from any businesses that may have work experience opportunities, as we have some very keen and willing students and school leavers who would appreciate an opportunity to experience the workforce and contribute in the working environment. 

“We know we are not going to be able to get all the kids jobs, but to get some work experience is beneficial for these young people.

“It helps them develop a sense of self-achievement and belonging to and contributing to their own community.

“It’s about giving them a purpose in their lives and giving it to them in their own communities rather than having to travel into Christchurch, which for some who live in the more rural areas like Darfield is not always that easy.” Mrs Gilmour said they have around half a dozen young adults who are already in work experience and they are grateful for the businesses that have already helped out.

The Selwyn Launch Group is holding an information evening in April for both the young people and their parents along with Selwyn businesses to find out more about the group. “At the meeting a Darfield mother will speak on her experiences of raising two children ith autism,” Mrs Gilmour said. “The owner and a staff member from Darfield Bakery will speak on their experiences of employing and working alongside people with disabilities.” 

She said it was an ideal time for any new families in Selwyn who may be looking for support and advice to come along and find out what they do.

For more information on the Selwyn Launch Group, people can visit the group’s website,, or contact Sandra Gilmour on 03 318 1757 or 021 232 8069, or email