Food and beverage producers eager to impress customers with quality packaging while making a positive social contribution have found the answer through their Bedford HiCity partnership.
Bedford HiCity offers employment, training and accommodation to support a happy and fulfilling life for people with disabilities, while delivering a high quality service to its clients. Bedford’s involvement goes far beyond the workplace by helping improve the personal lives of their workforce.
One in five Australians of working age have a disability. Also, 48 per cent of people with a disability participate in the workforce compared to 79 per cent of those without. Ongoing work and training provides employees with an income and boosts their confidence and self-worth, which leads to an improved standard of living.
Bedford HiCity’s workforce consists of 90 employees with disabilities and 23 supervising staff. They specialise in packaging and grounds maintenance for businesses in the region. Melbourne’s food and beverage industry has benefitted greatly from its partnership with Bedford HiCity. Their accredited ISO 9001 quality system has delivered impeccable packaging standard to the industry for years.
Bedford’s State Manager for Victoria, Adriano Pilati, loves the atmosphere created by his employees every day. Walking the factory floor, he greets the crew with some footy talk and a cheeky joke only to be countered with remarks, to Adriano’s dismay, about Carlton’s poor form.
“My favourite part about this workplace is no matter what, you always get a smile. No matter how bad things are for our people at the time, they’ll always have a smile for you.
Bedford HiCity provides employees with onsite training to develop their skills and understanding of the workplace. With each new contract the facility takes on, employees are taught specific procedures and how to complete them safely. This helps build on literacy, practical skills, numeracy, computer skills, personal safety and more.
“All our employees are supported directly by trained staff who are experienced in working with people with disabilities. With all jobs, each employee is shown the requirements of that job and they thrive when given the responsibility.”
Adriano wants to continue expanding his employees’ skills so they can improve their future employability. Bedford has purchased new equipment including pallet wrappers and electric pallet jacks to give employees that opportunity.
“Gaining confidence at work is a big plus for our people. That confidence spills over to everyday life, allowing them to take up activities like sport and use public transport.”
The self-assurance positively contributes to the high quality service Bedford clients receive.
“Our employees take a huge amount of pride in the service and quality they provide. They’re the first to spot any problems and highlight them to their support staff. They especially like showing off their quality work to visitors.”
In some cases, Bedford HiCity has provided a lifeline for people suffering from mental illness and difficult living conditions. Adriano explains with enthusiasm a success story of an employee who turned his life around while working with them.
“We had an employee who came to work with us with serious mental health problems. He was extremely shy and hard to communicate with. We supported and pushed him to express his thoughts and needs. Eventually his confidence started building and after several years he was able to face the world himself and control his anxieties. Now he has a Bachelor of Engineering and is currently completing a Masters.”
Bedford HiCity goes beyond providing employment and personal development for employees.
“We found out one of our employees was living in a caravan that didn’t even have running water or electricity. She never had a washing facility or shower facility. She would wash and shower under a tap outside. It was a complete shock to us. We were able to organise some comfortable accommodation for her and since then her demeanour has changed dramatically. She’s playing in a netball team and enjoys the time she spends at work.”
Bedford HiCity works closely with the Banyule City Council, local RSLs and Rotary Clubs to help support the operation. These partnerships have raised money to improve equipment and expand capabilities. The outcome has helped improve service quality and stimulate demand, resulting in the need for more employees.
Last year Bedford HiCity strengthened their partnership with the food and beverage industry by joining Melbourne’s North Food Group. The prospect of fostering relationships with more businesses in the industry prompted their eagerness to join.
“We saw joining MNFG as an opportunity to network with the industry and to help us create more work possibilities. It’s been great to have that mutually beneficial network at our disposal.”
Relocation is on the horizon after 44 years as Bedford HiCity seeks a suitable facility to help accommodate their increasing work load. The operation’s growth will expand the range of services they supply to the food and beverage industry.
Support and utilise Bedford HiCity’s cost-effective service. Find out how you can get involved today.