Tim’s story: riding towards his future

“Schooling’s not a happy place for me, ever,” Tim sadly reflects.

For as long as Tim can remember, he’s always struggled to read and write. 

“They put me through all sorts of tests when I was at school, for ADHD to not being able to look at the page and tell that there were letters. It just looked like squiggly lines to me.”

Diagnosed with meningitis when he was young, Tim’s learning abilities were affected. Since then, Tim has faced one battle after another. And Tim’s finite literacy and numerical skills has limited his ability to find stable work.

Now a single dad at 40, the prospect of studying again was initially daunting. Over the years Tim has studied numeracy and literacy courses but faced many obstacles along the way, including non-supportive teachers. 

When Tim was referred to Wesley Mission, he assumed this course would result in little progress.

“I didn’t want to be there. Just looking at the paperwork, put knots in my stomach,” Tim says.

But as Tim began studying his (BSB30415) Certificate III in Business Administration at Wesley Vocational Institute (RTO Code 90091), he noticed something different. It didn’t take long for him to realise this course wouldn’t be like the others, thanks to the people.

“Everybody at Wesley Mission basically said, ‘Look, just try your best and just give it a go, just be yourself’. I’ve become a better person just by knowing the people at Wesley Mission and Jill,” Tim explains.

“With Jill, I tell everybody, she’s the world’s best teacher. She really is. She put just as much effort into teaching me as I did to learn. I can’t thank her enough for it.”

Wesley Vocational Institute Trainer, Jill adds, “We would talk one-on-one and provide a scribe. He’d talked to me in detail about a topic but couldn’t put a four-letter word onto the paper. So, we had to work really diligently with him to support him to get to that level of putting pen to paper.”

Thanks to Jill’s guidance, Tim says he’s been given the support he needs to balance his studies and parenting duties. 

“Every time a barrier comes up, Jill always finds a way to make it happen – to be a single parent and have time off for school holidays.”

And no matter the challenge, Tim continues to overcome.

“When I first started the course, all I knew how to do was turn on a computer and play Solitaire,” he shares.

Now Windows and Excel are second nature for Tim.

“Now I know how to make my work pop so that it stands out above everybody else’s.”

Jill adds, “I got him behind a keyboard. And he just shined from that side of things. So instead of starting with theory training, I put the practical in front of him. So, it gave him that confidence to be able to develop.”

And when COVID-19 surfaced, Tim initially struggled to adjust to online learning.

“Being online, not being able to read and write, and not knowing the shortcuts to get to the information, I’m struggling,” he says.

But with Jill’s support, Tim is continuing to persevere.

“Jill always finds a way to help me. She’ll just call to say, ‘Well done, at least you’ve started. At least you’ve got something to show’. She’s so supportive.”

Now finished his first course, Tim’s studying a (BSB42015) Certificate IV in New Small Business at Wesley Vocational Institute to pursue his ambition to open his own bike safety business for kids.

The idea started off small but through the encouragement of his team at Wesley Mission, Tim says his dream has grown to be as big as his 12-size shoe.

“I want to open my own bike school from six to 16 and teach kids road safety, bike maintenance, and be able to get them into riding programs so that they can train for the Olympics and Commonwealth Games in BMX and road cycle.”

“Every time I’ve got a business plan and I meet somebody as wonderful as them (Wesley Mission), that business plan grows, and I’ve got to change it slightly to be able to fit it all in.”

Tim’s been passionate about bikes since a young age. “As far as I know, I’m the only 18-month-old child who knew how to ride a push bike without training wheels.”

And his devotion to kids’ bike safety stems from personal experience.

“There’s just too many little kids being hurt. Quite a few people I know, their kids have actually been hit by cars,” Tim explains.

In his spare time, Tim tinkers away fixing up bikes for kids in his neighbourhood. Alongside his enthusiasm for bike safety is his passion for teaching kids bike maintenance.

“Once they’ve been through the course with me, they should know how to pull the bike apart, put it back together and walk in and get their Ls straight away.” 

To help Tim achieve his dream, he’s also being supported through Wesley Mission’s Opportunity Pathways – a program that helps people achieve their housing, development and employment goals. Here’s where Tim met Hayley, Wesley Mission’s Opportunity Pathways Coach.

“Her great big smile. You can feel her smile on the phone. That’s how awesome she is,” he says. 

“Hayley’s a bit like Jill. She will find a way to help me out. It’s just amazing that Wesley Mission’s got such a good team. I’ve never been in anywhere where I’ve had such open hands and such honesty and such belief in me.” 

Hayley adds, “He wants to engage because he wants to get the best outcome for himself. You never have to ask him twice to do anything. He knows the harder that he works, the better outcome he’s going to get.”

“He’s always been very passionate about running his small business and road safety. That’s always been his number one priority, just doing whatever he can to make that happen and set up his life for his kids.”

In early 2020, Wesley Mission nominated Tim for Student of the Year for the Illawarra South East NSW Regional Training Awards. While he didn’t win, instead Tim was awarded the Dot Hennessey Award, recognising an exceptional Vocational and Education Training (VET) student. Named after Dot Hennessey, the award honours the 50-year contribution Dot has made to the Illawarra VET sector. 

“Being nominated, it just opened my eyes and opportunities. I’d heard of Dot and a few people that I’ve been around, they said that it’s going to change my world.”

“Just talking to Dot for five minutes made me stop and think about the why I want to go and do what I want to do.”

Jill adds, “Seeing Tim win this award has definitely given him more confidence and probably instilled in him his ability. I think it’s given him the confidence to be able to do what’s next.”

Tim is now on his way towards a career he’s passionate about. And Tim says it’s all thanks to Wesley Mission.

“I’m a better person for coming into Wesley Mission. I’ve never had so much friendship and people congratulating me.

“They’re all telling me to stand up and be counted. It’s changed my life.” 

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