Wellington After-Care Association
RCW Members involved:
Association Secretary, Brian McKeon,
Advisory Board members, Peter McLaren (Past President), Colin McLeod (Past President) and John Hall (former Board member).
To provide a range of services for adults with intellectual and/or psychiatric disability which provide appropriate learning programmemes, activities and support, based on expressed client needs, to encourage independence and a better quality of life in the area of leisure, home and work.
Wellington After-Care was a pioneer in the field of Sheltered Workshops in New Zealand - for people with intellectual disabilities.
It began in a very small way (two afternoons a week) in 1926, but officially formed as a Voluntary Organisation in 1928 and registered as an Incorporated Society in 1929. It started out providing an alternative to children who through the new Education Grading System at the time, were considered uneducable. Only what were considered "educable" children were admitted to ‘special’ classes.
At this time all the workers for After-Care gave voluntary service. From the beginning the children and young adults were taught handicrafts, enjoyed picnics and various outings and were kept occupied in a loving environment receiving personal help when needed.
From these beginnings After-Care changed periodically over the years in its service provision. More and more adults attended and more and more people with a wide range of disabilities found their way to the centre.
After-Care became a place to go when there was nowhere else and it consequently became difficult to cater for such a huge range of different needs.
In 1992, the organisation began to offer a range of living skills programmes and other learning opportunities, as well as continuing with a range of hand crafts. The focus then moved towards people learning or re-learning skills and equipping people to participate in the wider community.
In 1994 Wellington After-Care addressed issues arising from trying to provide needs based programmes for people with intellectual disabilities as well as people with psychiatric disabilities. The planning towards providing separate services for Mental Health Consumers began, which was timely in terms of the de-institutionalisation process of Porirua Hospital and the move to Community Based Care.
The Regional Health Authority, now the Ministry of Health, allowed the planning to become a reality and currently Wellington After-Care provides three suburban-based, Mental Health Day Services.
Ace House continues as a Learning Centre for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities and houses ACEmployment, our Supported Employment Service.
From small beginnings, Wellington After-Care Association now provides five services for adults with disabilities in the greater Wellington area.