Shalom House residents help lay new foundations

Kaj-Erik Bulliard (left) with field officer Ian Fitzgerald and fellow course participants from Shalom House. Picture: David Baylis d460073
Kaj-Erik Bulliard (left) with field officer Ian Fitzgerald and fellow course participants from Shalom House. Picture: David Baylis d460073

MANY hands made light work for a group of men from Henley Brook rehabilitation facility Shalom House recently, when they were taught bricklaying skills, thanks to the Australian Brick and Block laying Training Foundation.

Field representative Ian Fitzgerald spent the last three Wednesdays with the men at one of the Shalom House properties.

“This project gives the guys an opportunity to learn or build on skills they already have, so they have a chance to step up into the world again,” he said.

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“What I’ve shown them is predominantly bricklaying; how to mix the mortar, to lay bricks and other hand skills. They now have the skills to construct something in the future and I believe they will be building a barbecue as their next project.”

Mr Fitzgerald, who has been in the industry for more than 50 years, said the program was supported by brick companies Midland Brick, Austral Brick and Geraldton Brick. For every 1000 bricks sold, a designated amount of money goes towards training high school students, apprentices and special programs, such as this one.

“The support we have got from Shalom House is great,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Sometimes we go to places and we’re just used up for materials and skills, but these guys have shown great commitment and I’d be willing to recommend them for employment.

“Everyone deserves a second chance.”

Shalom House resident Kaj-Erik Bulliard impressed with his extensive knowledge learnt from the sessions.

“The pick-up has been absolutely fantastic, the retention of knowledge has been incredible,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Manager Peter Lyndon-James, a former addict, said he was grateful the foundation had given the men a chance.

“Shalom is different to any other rehab facility in that it’s holistic, we focus on the individual and their families too,” he said.

“We help all the men clean up past debt, credit files, get driver’s licences and get cars and set them up for the future.

“Courses like this help our fellas get some direction back into their lives.”

Mr Lyndon-James gave the example of one Shalom House resident who had just entered into the workforce as a qualified carpenter with his own business.

“We have guys at Bible College, studying to be counsellors and many more trades,” he said.

“They all start in paid work once a week and eventually progress to full time.”

The self-funded rehabilitation centre currently houses 61 men, from those who have recently broken drug and alcohol addictions who live in the main site, to those who have been without addiction for up to a year and now live independently.