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Choice Mentors – Helping each other out

Stories of interest

Early last year Ashleigh Izard was having a chat with VALID staff member Kylie Fisher about her goals and plans for the future. Her NDIS planning meeting was coming up and Ashleigh was still thinking about what she wanted to do with her life. Kylie could see that Ashleigh would benefit from support in making her decisions about what to do, and mentioned VALID’s Choice Mentor program.

“I knew Kylie and after we talked she gave me some information about the program. I thought a mentor would be able to help me make some decisions about my life.” After thinking it through Ashleigh went back to Kylie and agreed to becoming a participant in the program.

Before her first meeting with the volunteer, Ashleigh was nervous and had butterflies but when Brigitte Stone showed up at her door and introduced herself, Ashleigh felt at ease. Volunteer Brigitte visited Ashleigh at her house.

The aim of the Choice Mentor is to help participants like Ashleigh make decisions about their lives, such as accommodation, accessing services and health care. The Choice Mentor provides tips and support to the participant to help them make and act on their own decisions.

Brigitte became involved in Ashleigh’s life when she was needing some guidance outside of her normal circle of support. Ashleigh was supported by Brigitte for a year, helping her make decisions on a range of topics, such as finishing school, further education, employment, living independently, her hopes and dreams. “These were things that I had went through so I was able to share my experiences and help Ashleigh make her own decisions.”

During that time the NDIS was rolling out in the Barwon region and Ashleigh was able to turn to Brigitte for advice. “With the NDIS, with that change, Ashleigh was able to work out how she wanted to be supported.”

Brigitte also got a lot out of the program. “Not only did I make a new friend, but I also developed new skills and it helped build my confidence. I am starting a new job at Women’s Health and Well Being in Barwon South and that never would have happened if it weren’t for Ashleigh and the program”

“I was really happy with Brigitte and we now have a bond. A friend I can talk to,” says Ashleigh. And Brigitte couldn’t agree more. “The program is mutually beneficial and we both gained a friend through this program. I believe that future mentors can look forward to something that is going to nourish their lives,” says Brigitte

If you’re interested in becoming a Choice Mentor or haveing a Choice Mentor support you, you can get in touch with us here

Ashleigh and Brigitte at Ashleigh's baby shower
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