Waikato businessman provides employment for disabled people
4 December 2014
Waikato businessman honoured for providing employment opportunities for disabled people
Service station owner Selwyn Cook has provided employment for scores of people with a disability, injury or illness. Now his vision and passion to help people into the workforce has been recognised at a glittering awards event.
Last night Mr Cook, whose Hamilton-based SSC Service Stations owns 14 licensed Z service stations across Waikato, was named the 2014 winner of the Attitude ACC Employer Award.
The Attitude Awards, held at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland, recognise the achievements of the hundreds of thousands of Kiwis who live with disability. It also recognises the employers who work alongside them to help them achieve their career ambitions.
In the audience to see Mr Cook receive the award was Grant Cleland, chief executive of Workbridge, a professional employment service for people with all types of disability, injury or illness, and Ross MacKenzie, an Employment Consultant with the Workbridge Team in Hamilton.
“This is an incredibly well-deserved honour and we could not be happier to see Selwyn recognised in this way,” said Mr MacKenzie.
“I have been working with Selwyn for three years. We were looking for an employer that would be able to provide opportunities for job seekers and he was looking for staff. We went from there. He has now placed in excess of 70 of our jobseekers with his company.
“They range from administrative positions in his corporate office to forecourt staff and site leaders. Many have been with his company for several years now. He totally walks the talk, has provided wonderful opportunities for our job seekers and looks after his staff incredibly well. Now we just need more employers like him.”
Mr Cook said his connection with Workbridge began after he saw an Attitude programme on TV One. He called Workbridge and asked how he could help.
“Ross tells me we have employed more than 70 people since then but I haven’t been counting,” he said. “We don’t have a policy to employ people with disabilities. We are just looking for the best people possible for the roles and Workbridge keep on sending me a whole stream of superstars.
“I am very honoured by the award and the highlight of the evening was when a large group of our people who have come to us through Workbridge came up onto the stage to join me. They had travelled up to Auckland secretly. That was a pretty special moment.”
Mr Cook’s PA, Kim Smith, who is blind, joined the business through Workbridge last year. She said: “A lot of employers don’t want to look past a disability so it’s quite amazing to actually have an employer who is willing to work with my disability.”
Mr Cleland said Mr Cook had shown true leadership. “Selwyn is an employer who sees disabled people for their abilities and skills. It was awesome to see him recognised in this way. He has done fantastic work and I congratulate him on behalf of everyone at Workbridge.”
Workbridge is the largest New Zealand owned employment agency for disabled people with a disability, injury or illness. Established in 1990, Workbridge has arranged thousands of jobs every year for disabled New Zealanders so they can contribute to our economy and gain economic independence.
Workbridge was created to replace the Rehabilitation League NZ that was established in 1931 to provide rehabilitation and employment for disabled serviceman.
Workbridge has a governance and senior management structure led by disabled people. We support disabled jobseekers, employers and workplaces across New Zealand, with 102 employment consultants in 22 locations. Workbridge has arranged 36,857 jobs for disabled people in the past decade.
Workbridge shares the vision of the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, that disabled people have the same right to take part in community life as everyone else. We work with disabled people to increase their participation in employment. To achieve this we work co-operatively with other community organisations, employers and government.