Brad’s access to support

When Community Chaplain Kerry Parry first met Brad, his paintings were gracing the walls of The Access Place in Atherton. The talented painter was showing his work as part of an exhibition for Mental Health Week.

In his 50s, Brad moved to Far North Queensland from the Northern Territory. Worklink’s Personal Helpers and Mentors Service encouraged him to take the leap and display his vibrant artworks for the first time.

“He was pleasantly surprised when he sold a number of his paintings. He went on to have his own exhibitions and sold even more,” Kerry said.

With the exhibitions, Brad became a regular face at The Access Place, and enjoyed having regular chats with Kerry. In his own words, Brad said: “We’ve had a few yarns about God things, but she doesn’t force me to believe in anything”.  

Brad, like many people, is struggling to get by each week on a very low income, leaving him with little in the hand after paying rent.

“At The Access Place there is a ‘pay-it-forward’ board where individuals anonymously purchase someone in the community a coffee, and Brad has found this very helpful at times,” Kerry said.

Through Brad and Kerry’s regular conversations, it was decided that a free pantry would be helpful for the people in need in the local community.

Brad generously offered to build some shelves out of pallets to fit in with the design of the café and people are now able to drop off excess fruit, vegetables and tinned foods, to be accessed by people in need.

For Brad, The Access Place provides a welcoming sanctuary where he can contribute and where he can sit and chat with Kerry.

“In my experience, Australian’s don’t do help for help’s sake anymore, there is a sense of obligation. This is the point of difference at The Access Place, because they care with no strings attached. The world is full of people who are ruthless, callous and disconnected. I grew up with feelings of respecting others only out of fear. I’m bewildered about how nasty the world is—but not so the people at The Access Place,” Brad said.

Brad has almost become a resident handyman at the café—fixing chairs and tables, refurbishing furniture and his latest project has been building a bookcase so they can have free books available.  

Slowly, Kerry has been encouraging Brad to take part in more social events. For over a year, Kerry has been coordinating social dinners and after multiple invitations, Brad, finally agreed to attend. He helped by waiting on the tables and clearing up after the meal.

In his own way, Brad is connecting into community through The Access Place with the help of Community Chaplain Kerry Parry.

Read more stories like this in the latest edition of Networking.

Posted March 2, 2017 in Networking blog