Stitches and Prints has been a welcoming workplace for the past 25 years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Recently the social enterprise, which provides paid employment to people with disability, was named a state finalist in the NSW Business Chambers 2018 Business Awards for Excellence in Workplace Inclusion.
“The award is really great for all members of staff,” enterprise manager with Tulgeen Group Dave Akehurst said.
“It’s just a recognition of what we’ve done in the last 12 months.
“We can use it to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come.”
Along with two staff members there are seven supported employees who have an National Disability Insurance Scheme plan at Stitches and Prints.
The produce bags they create are made from new materials, but everything else is made from re-purposed or recycled materials.
For instance, the workers use chook feed bags or coffee sacks to transform into shopping or library bags. They also make such items as tea towels and aprons.
“One of the biggest challenges that we’ve had is how we’re known as a disability enterprise,” Mr Akehurst said.
“Our products are absolutely market-leading products.
“Our products don’t come off a production line, they are each individually checked.”
There are many ways the enterprise has made its workplace inclusive, including flexibility with time, bespoke training for each individual and providing work that encompasses all abilities and interests.
“Everyone is included and they are all important to the success of Stitches and Prints,” coordinator with the enterprise Sherrie Fletcher said.
The longest-serving supported employee at the enterprise is Jennifer Wade, who has been creating products there for the last 25 years.
She said she was close to everyone who worked there and she did not have a favourite job because she liked all parts of the creating process.
“I get a lot of training and I can’t retire!” Ms Wade said.
Tulgeen's media, marketing and events facilitator Lisa Miller Bradley said all employers could benefit from creating inclusive workplaces.
“It’s good for empathy, it’s good for moral and it’s good for perspective, being able to walk in another person’s shoes,” she said.
Mr Akehurst said Stitches and Prints was looking to expand next year.