Stepping Stones for Life (SSFL)

Stepping Stones for Life has over time provided a range of support activities which commenced in 2001 as an initiative of St Margaret’s Uniting Church in Hackett.

Activities continue to be run by Stepping Stones for a group of people who are ageing or living with a disability. These include an exercise class, run in conjunction with the YMCA; a music group; and an art and craft group. A Book Club is operated at Ross Walker lodge and the residents there are also taken on regular informal outings. Other informal events and activities are held from time to time and a ‘Service of Thanksgiving’ and celebration is held annually for the diverse community in which Stepping Stones resides.

For several years with the support of the ACT Community Services Directorate, Stepping Stones employed part time professional staff known as SSFL Family Facilitators who worked closely with families to support and advocate on their behalf. A major role was to work with designated families to help them plan and implement long term arrangements for the time when the parents are unable to continue providing the care which they have been giving for as many as 30, 40 or 50 years. With the advent of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), this role was transferred to UnitingCare and subsequently to Uniting working in conjunction with Capital Community Housing.

Stepping Stones has also been involved with people who have made the move to a level of independence. A number of those live in houses at Ainslie and Hackett. The most recent of these, the Hackett property known as Ross Walker Lodge, is located behind St Margaret’s on church property and was constructed in 2011 with Federal and Territory Government support under the Social Housing Initiative of the Nation Building – Economic Stimulus Plan. The house at Ainslie was purpose built by Housing ACT to accommodate three women with higher needs whose families were working actively with Stepping Stones to plan for the future. An approach known as ‘Family Governance’, was employed to empower the individuals and their families, giving them much greater independence, dignity and control over their lives than is normally the case in more institutionalised models.

While Stepping Stones does not continue to work actively planning with families, St Margaret’s aims to maintain a wider circle of support and friendship for those involved.

Stepping Stones operates under the oversight of St Margaret’s Uniting Church. It grew out of St Margaret’s Social Responsibility Committee which morphed into an Aged and Disability Committee and started formally as Stepping Stones in 2003 with seed funding provided by UnitingCare Bequests Committee. From 2005, grants and later Service Funding Agreements from the ACT Government Community Services Directorate provided stability in employing staff. In that same time period Stepping Stones received considerable help and encouragement from Disability ACT and Carers ACT.

As mentioned above, the main focus is now on the weekly Stepping Stones music, art and craft activities for people with a disability and on St Margaret’s support for Ross Walker Lodge. Exercise Classes are largely autonomous within the wider circle of St Margaret’s activities for seniors, which include the Friendship Group, Luncheon Group and Travel Club.

The financial and in-kind support of St Margaret’s Church Council and the congregation and from the wider community over the years has been appreciated and is always welcome. People wishing to further advance the work of Stepping Stones and the Ross Walker Lodge can do so in two ways; by joining the team of volunteer helpers or by making a donation to help fund activities. There is another way too, of course; by remembering their work in your prayers.

For more information please contact:

Stepping Stones For Life

St Margaret’s Uniting Church

PO Box 7036 WATSON ACT

Phone: 02 6262 5662

Email: steppingstonesforlife@bigpond.com

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