When opportunity came knocking, NDIS participant Ursh Hyslop was ready to answer the call.
Supported by the NDIS, Ursh, 50, has transitioned from volunteer to an online marketing and sales guru at Momentum Collective Recycler’s Op Shop on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales.
Ursh, who lives with schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is letting her dedication and personality shine.
'I started 2-and-a-half years ago as a volunteer, and after I applied for the NDIS, it took about 6 months to get paid work,' Ursh said.
'Through the NDIS, I’ve been given support, and being able to be paid a wage has been an incentive to work and get me out of my room.
'I tend to isolate and have done for most of my life, but it’s been amazing.
'My bosses and co-workers are great, and I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity.'
Ursh was born in Zimbabwe before relocating to Australia at the age of 18 in 1991.
After enjoying sport as a child, Ursh worked in sports coordination in Perth before moving east to forge careers as a security guard and facility manager in Sydney.
It was losing her mother through mental illness which turned Ursh’s life upside down and placed her on a path to the Tweed.
'Losing mum was a traumatic experience.
'I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, ADHD, and depression after her death, and recently found I’m on the Autism spectrum,' Ursh said.
'The ADHD and Autism I can see from when I was a child, but the schizophrenia was brought on by the trauma.
'I lost my house and had to resign from my job as I wasn’t coping.'
After finding her feet, Ursh began building her future through her volunteering role at the Op Shop.
Starting out in the sorting room, Ursh sorted, steamed, priced and prepared clothes and other items.
She cleaned furniture to ensure it sparkled, and even dabbled in car detailing as she transitioned into paid work, with NDIS support.
'I started working on the register.
'That was great as I enjoy the sales side,' Ursh said.
'My manager taught me how to use Facebook Marketplace.
'So now, I photograph, measure, and assess all the furniture, and do a description for the items we put on there.
'Any help I need, I go to my managers, and the staff have also been great.
"I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity to work there.'
Through her NDIS supports, Ursh is also enjoying building her capacity outside of work.
Ursh gets about using transport funding, and engages support workers, Marty, and Janet, who’ve been 'really supportive'.
Ursh is in line with 97% of NDIS participants surveyed who felt happy with their relationship with staff, a 26 percentage point increase.
'Janet helps me with my paperwork and applications, and in general with my health and wellbeing' Ursh said.
'I’ve been able to do a photography course to learn how to use a digital camera.
'Marty is interested in photography, and he takes me out.
'I also have funding for a night or weekend away a couple of times a year.
'It means I get to spend time with people with the same mental health issues and it’s really supportive.'
Ursh is one of the 80% of participants who participate in activities that interest them and the 78% who choose how to spend their free time, a 20 percentage point increase.
Ursh said those breaks away had been great for growing her confidence socially.
Ursh, who identifies as gay, said she hoped to use that confidence and support, to connect with the LGBTQIA+ community.
'I’m a gay woman and have been openly gay since I was a teenager,' Ursh said.
'I haven’t had much to do with gay groups since leaving Sydney, but I’d like to get involved.
'There are events I can go to, but I need a support worker with me as I’m afraid to go alone.'
Ursh hopes to continue building her personal and professional capacity and is exploring options for independent living.
She also plans to do more courses through work, study, and share her mother’s story and the associated trauma, to better educate others on the impacts of mental health.
'I’ve been bullied and have been in situations which weren’t very nice, and that comes with the stigma of mental illness,' Ursh said.
'It can be life-changing, and I think it’s important for people to know mental health can also impact them and their family.'