In what could only be described as a full circle moment, Northaven opened a new business in Inverell on Saturday that pays homage to where the service began over half a century ago: as a flower garden.
The Northaven Ability Florist, situated at 65 Oliver Street, flourished from an idea to assist a supported employee of the not-for-profit service who was already a certificate III trained florist.
Northaven DisAbility Service National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) manager Kelly Dines said funding was sought through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) under a new employment initiative.
"Sonya, who we support through the NDIS, was trained in floristry through another provider about 10 years ago. We started talking about doing floristry as therapy for her. From there the idea grew to open a florist shop and we got funding to get it going," she said.
With an already developed passion and experience with floristry, the idea to open a shop was perfect for Sonya and aligned with Northaven's aim to support independence through employment, life skills and adventures for people living with differing abilities in Inverell and outlying areas.
Sonya has been training another supported employee Robyn, and a Northaven support worker to assist her with the shop- which offers a variety of floral arrangements for any occasion.
A portfolio of stunning arrangements can be found on the website www.northavenabilityflorist.com, where you can order any bouquet that suits your needs.
"Sonya will also run some small workshops for other people in the community that might want to learn how to do a bit of floristry. The idea is centered around breaking down the stigma around people with disabilities and what they can and can't do.
"The business is driven by Sonya and the other supported employees as to where it goes in the future. We are also offering free delivery- which creates more employment for others," she said.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall officially opened the new Ability Florist on Saturday. Kelly said many community members visited and the shop made some good sales.
Not only does the shop offer an array of gorgeous bouquets for any occasion, many of Northaven's supported metal and woodwork employees will be selling products in the shop made of recyclable materials.
"The counters and display cabinets in the shop were also made by people from Northaven as well. This project has been a full circle to get back to our heritage because Northaven started as a flower garden."
The Ability Florist is open from 8.30am until 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am until 12pm on Saturday. For more information, or to order flowers, call 6722 2280 or 0436 282 315, or visit the website.
"This is a great initiative and the start of a new beginning for Northaven," she said.
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