Jacobs Staff Update

Jacob’s Staff Update

It’s been a cold few weeks at AJs as winter well and truly rolls in, nevertheless the ship keeps moving forward. It’s been a very busy period, with all the different jobs coming in, not made any easier by all the colds and flu going around at this time a year.

I’m lucky enough to take a variety of activities and outings in the AJs workroom and out in the community over a weekly basis.

I have a pool group during the day on Monday, this is with Josh, Harley A, Hamish and Kevin. We previously went to the Woolston workingmen’s club for this but over the covid period they had closed, we are hoping to get back once they open. The afternoon consists of going out to Ferrymead golf, we alternate between a boy’s group and a girl’s group, we stop at countdown on the way for an afternoon tea bite usually consisting of a piece of fruit (Bananas are a crowd favourite).

Tuesdays are bowling day; There’s a pool of about twelve clients I take so they get to go every three weeks we walk down to garden city bowling after lunch. All the clients enjoy trying to beat me and they always are stoked when they get 100! Everyone is always so supportive when others get spares/strikes! (Except for when I get one!).

On Wednesdays I pick up the McDonalds for the clients with my top-notch helpers Harley B, Alecia and Kyle! They are in charge of carrying the boxes to the car and into AJs.

Every second Thursday I would take a group of clients down to St Albans community centre for a gaming group where we would meet up with a couple other schools/providers and play some board games together. This was all organised by Harley A, unfortunately, like the Woolston workingmen’s club they stopped having us due to covid, we are hoping to get back in the near future. In the meantime the guys that went every second week, now sort out a board game to play quietly in-between morning tea and lunch with each other in a corner of the workroom. In the afternoon every week we go to the Canterbury Table Tennis stadium. We normally take ten clients and play games of Polybat and Table Tennis.

Every second Friday we have the “Wise Guys” group. Ralph, Jimmy, John G and I go out for a browse around some shops and then park up at a café for a coffee. My last activity for the week is an active group with Laughie, Ben NF, Josh and Eddie when he feels like it. We use the cable machine at the back of the workshop. They have all their weights for different exercises on the wall next to them so they can track their progress and see the improvements they have made.

Caitlin – Staff Update

Caitlin’s Update

As I am coming to the end of my first year working at AJ’s everything has been busy with work and routines coming together. I am very happy to have graduated from being called ‘New girl’ by Jimmy Keeley (sorry Jacob) and be a regular in and about at AJ’s.

Most days I take one on one FOCUS activities with clients varying what we do depending on their individual interest and goals. On Monday’s the “J’s” are the most consistent with Joe, Jack and Joseph going every week. Joe M has been working on upper body strength focusing mainly on boxing and push-ups. Jack and I stretch in the workshop and Joseph walks with me whenever the weather fine. In the afternoon I take a Pool group mainly consisting of Eddy, Lewis, Sam and Nick T. Recently we have been doing this at the Pool table of AJ’s so the whole workshop gets to hear us make foul calls at each other.

On Tuesdays I spend the morning in the workshop and the afternoon out for a walk with Paul Maylam.  Our highlight walk so far has been going to Alice’s DVD store with room and rooms full of DVD’s.

Working through the selection of day walks around Christchurch has been a focus of my Wednesday active group.  Matt K, Ben M and Nick F were happy to get to see the new footbridges along the Te Ara Ōtākaro Avon River Trail last week after getting rained on halfway the week before. Harley B and I consistently exercise on a Wednesday afternoon with walking being our most regular activity. We are quite well known around the local area for stopping and having a chat or a look around what Philipstown has to offer.

Thursday Morning means Timezone for Chris and I. We take an additional 2 clients with us (Kyle, Jack, Simon, Georgia, Josh and Anthony). While Chris plays mostly racing games, the rest of us explore all the games on offer. Dancing with the ladies is my first Thursday afternoon activity. Laureen, Georgia, Sophie and I listen to our favourite music (mostly ABBA) and have a boogie for about 30mins. Georgia knows all the lyrics and sings along quietly, whereas the rest of us are loud and sing along with whatever words we feel. After this Helen and I work-out together. Recently we have been walking past the dog day-care near us so we can see the dogs out for their daily walks.

On Fridays I do FOCUS with Craig B in the morning, we walk to different places and take the bus back to AJ’s. Craig really enjoys taking the bus and exploring all the sites Chch has to offer.  Every other week I take John N out to find the best Café in walking distance. When we get to the Café, John uses his book to keep me up to date on all the topics on the news. In the Afternoon Harrison and I do exercise together. Recently we have been practicing Frisbee throws together.

25 years of AJs

25 years of AJs

The following is a bit of a story AJs. There are no names mentioned in this story as due to there being so many people and all of them have had some influence on what AJs is.

Over 25 years ago 30 of us who were involved with Templeton Centre decided we would like to accept the challenge of being more involved in our local Christchurch community.

I had the opportunity to set up AJ’s Day Options as a Charitable trust with the support of my wife.

The 25 people who lived at Templeton allowed me to be involved in discussing with their families to get their support for what we wanted to do. After some interesting discussions the 30 of us (25 who lived at Templeton and 5 of us you came in during the day) had the support of the people we needed to start up AJs.

Although 25 May 1997 is our official anniversary the first day, we opened at 426 Taum St was 1 April 1997.

The initial goal for all 30 of us was to help each other to enjoy the opportunities that being in the community would offer us.

Some of the group were not aware of exactly what opportunities were on offer as they had not had a chance to spend a lot of time in the community. So as a group we decided it would be a good idea if the people who were aware of what was on offer made a list of the activities and over a period of time small groups would go and try them out so that everyone could then be able to make a choice on the type of activities they may like to be involved in over a longer time period.

While getting out and about was important the group also needed something to do while they were at the base at 426 Taum St. Most of the group from Templeton Centre were involved in the industries unit during the day, where they were doing jobs such as assembling small components. AJs was lucky that some of the same businesses were able to also give us some of the same type of work to do.

Over the next year, as Templeton Centre slowly closed and people started to move into homes within the community the number of people coming to AJs increased. AJs was one of several different places that people could choose to go to. One of the great things in those early years was how all-day services talked with each other and we all offered slightly different things so that the people had a good variety of options to choose from to met their hopes and wishes.

Over the next few years, AJs was funded to support people who had left Templeton. We all worked hard at supporting each other to make the most of the opportunities we had. Small groups (3 to 4) of us joined a variety of activities such as gentle exercise groups run by the CCC community centres, going to the local driving range, playing pool at the local working men’s club, attending the CCC sensory room, joining the local community walking group, etc.

At the same time as were expanding our community activities, we were also getting a name for ourselves with some of the local businesses. We started to get a variety of new jobs to do. This was great as it gave us a chance to develop our work skills and also brought in more money to help cover the costs of the community activities, we were all doing.

For a while we also supported a few of the guys who were keen to work part time in mainstream employment. The people involved all received the appropriate wage while working. Over time, there became a few services that specialized in supported employment so we decided that we would suggest people that wanted a job to contact one of these services.

As the years moved on, so did some of our original group due to things such as retirement or just deciding to give something else a go. At the same time we were also starting to get some interest from some young school leavers who wanted to visit AJs, to see if it was somewhere they might want to go once they leave school.

The whole group at AJs had a talk about the students and we all decided it might be good to have some young people around and we were keen to help support them during their transition.

The first few students seemed to enjoy the relaxed environment at AJs, and we all felt the enthusiasm from the students had a positive effect on all of us.

Having the students at AJs also go some of us talking about other ways we may be able to help the students during the Transition.

One of the ideas that came up was the RISK (Recreation Inspires Strength and Knowledge) programme that has now been running for over 8 years (apart from effects due to covid). This programme works with 6-8 students and people from AJs who use outdoor recreational activities to help the students develop their confidence and teamwork which are all important things they will need in the future.

In the last couple of years, the AJs group has evolved with a good mix of young people and some of the originals. We have been lucky that with the younger school leavers coming, we have also been able to have some other young ones who have started and have the label of “support staff’.

The arrival of the young ones has ensured that AJs continues to move with the times. There has been a shift in the types of activities we now have groups involved in activities such as, timezone, polybat and table tennis and T ball. The younger group has also encouraged the importance of being active and healthy with a large number of AJs both young and old all doing some sort of exercise while at AJs.

As an original it is really interesting listening during lunchtime to all the young ones talking about what they saw on Facebook or the latest device they have. Its also interesting to see some of our so-called older group showing a real interest in what the young ones are doing and wanting to have a go.

Over the 25 years we have seen lots of changes in the activities we do, and the jobs we do at AJs and in the people who are now part of AJs.

However, even with all the changes I am proud that AJs still remains having as its main goal, “That we all support each other to make the most of opportunities that we have”, or I guess the new term is “live a good life”

I feel it is important that I thank 2 of the groups of people that have helped AJs be the supportive environment it is.

The first group is the people that have chosen to come to AJs and put the effort into helping their mates and themselves to make the most of their time at AJs

The second group are the people who come to AJs with the label “support staff” as they put so much effort into making sure that everyone at AJs is given the chance to be themselves and encouraged to make the most of their time at AJs

Jim (An AJs original)

There is a video on our Facebook page celebrating 25 years: https://www.facebook.com/ajs2020/videos/695480121680234/

Paula’s Farewell – Staff Update

Paula’s Farewell – Staff Update

Time to move on.

On Thursday the 24th of February I will be working my last day at AJ’s, I am moving on to Special Olympics NZ where I will be the Regional Sports Co-Ordinator of the Upper South Island. This means I will see many people from AJ’s around at different Special Olympics events.

AJ’s has been a large part of my life; I was here 25 years ago when it all began. Then after a few trips overseas and living in the UK for 15 years, I have been back again for four years this time, it has been great and worked perfectly with my young family.

I will miss the vibrancy of AJ’s; the new young clients, who are school leavers, really bring a new lease of life to the unit. There are a lot of opportunities for clients to get stuck in and live their best AJ’s life.

I have fond memories of catching the bus from Templeton in the early days and everyone buzzing about their new lives in the “community”.  Supporting people to go on the escalator, who had never been on one before, teaching independent busing skills and drinks at the pub on a Friday afternoon with Jimmy Connors were all part of the early days at AJ’s.

I love the way AJ’s is progressing with the young clients and moving with them to create opportunities doing many different activities. Getting people ‘moving more than before’ with 1-1 sessions and small groups has really got most people involved.

To all the staff, keep being awesome and supporting people to thrive and look out for each other.

Jim, you are like a brother to me, thanks for always taking me on, I will always be the boomerang of AJ’s. Calling from Singapore Airport and when seven months pregnant back from the UK, asking if there was any chance of a job at AJ’s…you always said “yes” thank you for that.  Allowing me to follow my dream and play cricket for my country, back in the late 90’s early 2000’s. I was one of the lucky ones with a supportive boss at the time.

I wish AJ’s all the best; I will pop back and have the odd lunch catch up.

I am looking forward to the challenges in my new job, stepping out of my comfort zone and having to use my initiative and learn as I go along.

Julia-Grace – Staff Update

Julia-Grace – Staff Update

First few weeks back at AJS and getting used to red level.

Everyone has been getting back into the swing of things and working well. Everyone seems pleased that community activities can go ahead during red level as long as they have a vaccine pass.

The activities I support.

The bowling group on Monday now has a permanent booking for Mondays. Ayden has been very curious about the booster shot and likes asking the ask the staff there about how they found it. Everyone gets very excited when some gets strike or a spare.

The one on one Taekwondo exercises have also stared back slowly with some. They seem to love doing a ki-hap (Korean word which translates to ‘yell’) on every tenth punch or block.

On Wednesday activities have been back on. Jack, Alecia and Lyric have been planning what activities they would like to try a do this year in their pairs. Last year we had done things like going the museum, cafes, playing board games, a tie-dye project and various other things.

The fitness session on Friday are also back on. We’ve been working on goal setting as well as working out which types of exercise they would like to do so there some variation for them. Clelemnt loves to use the rowing machine as he races along iron man until the timer goes off. Jeff would like to be the next Joseph Parker. While Hamish just likes to beat me in which fitness related game we choose to play.

Overall it has been great to back and it is awesome to have people back.

17/8/2021 AJs closed during Level 4

As we have moved into Level 4 for the next 3 days AJs will be closed during that time. We will keep you all up to date with when we can reopen both on our web

site in the News Page and on our facebook page.

25th Nov 2020 Matt.

What a year aye, and it’s not even over yet.

Much like the big budget blockbuster films from the major movie studios, our movie project has suffered from the affects of this year. Between lockdowns and some of the guys being away for different reasons, it’s delayed the final release of our current project. Sam Taylor, Nick Field, Nick Tomkinson, Eddie Hines, Cameron Hepburn, Ben Marshall, and Lewis Hawker have all been working away on it the project, hopefully nearing the end of production. We were able to make some of the shorter length video updates after lockdown, to keep everyone in the loop of what was happening.

Most of the week I’m actually in the workshop cracking the whip, sometimes literally. I’ve had an app on my phone that sounds like a whip noise when you flick your phone, and gets a good laugh from the guys. Work though has been a bit lite on the ground at times, which I guess is another sign of the times. We have had a few division jobs coming through, no doubt keeping Paul McElhinney happy his favourite job’s still coming in. We’ve had a few jobs from Every educaid and few pamphlets jobs. Aucom and Modular jobs have still been pretty steady, Kyle, Jimmy, Sam T and Kelvin are happy with that. Kelvin has also enjoyed watching the roadworks outside when things have been a bit quiet. They’re hopefully going to be done by Christmas, though I’m not sure which year. I think we were originally told they were to be done by Christmas last year.

And even though I really enjoy being in the workshop, it’s been fun filling in on some of the outings we do. Joining the pool group taking Eddie, Lewis, Sam T and Nick T the time I went, and losing both games I played. I’ve taken the timezone group a couple of times recently, with Mark R, Cara, Clement, and Anthony, then also taking Mark R, Ian P and Murdoch car cleaning as well. I also took the golf group a few times, seeing some good improvements since when some of them started, Ben N/F in particular comes to mind who is hitting the ball better.

To round out my week, I take a group of young guys out of Fridays, the regulars are Sam T, Nick F, and Harley B. We alternate between mornings one week, and afternoons the other. For the afternoons we head out to Orana to drop off shredded paper, on occasion actually seeing the animals playing with it. On the morning time slots we try and fit in a decent active outing. Going for a walk somewhere, recently doing some walks down Sumner way, but also going to the free basketball/table-tennis in town, and planning on doing frizby golf sometime soon.

Of course though, I can’t finish without making some comment about Christmas being almost upon us. Christmas lunch is still being finalised, but it will be held at AJ’s this year. It’s likely to be a more casual affair, which will be a nice change. But the most important thing, seeing as I’m no longer the youngest here, I don’t have to do the decorations this year. 

29/920 Barbara’s update


Even in Level 2 we could still access some of our activities so the Gentle Exercise Group (Alan S, Beth and Craig B and myself) have been attending each Friday at Ascot Ave.  Craig is the only original group member, still going strong after all this time.  The instructor, Michelle, mixes up the class so we don’t get bored.  The music is always great, and our ability is variable, but we are always motivated by the thought of morning tea.  Lorraine is a very good timekeeper and tells Michelle, and us, how long we have till it is coffee time!  We had some ball skills today, which is always fun, but no-one will be getting a call up to the Silver Ferns or the Wellington Phoenix…I’m sure they would be relieved to hear that!

We go to the Naked Baker for morning tea.  Everyone knows us and we have a table reserved, which is great.  We laugh and talk and enjoy the food and drinks – the order is always the same – muffins, milkshakes, coffee and a sausage roll.  I try and tempt Alan and Beth with the array of food but no, they are creatures of habit.

Lately, we have gone down to the Estuary to feed the seagulls which is such fun.  It is exciting to throw bread while dodging air drops from thankful seagulls.  It’s even more fun when the Easterly blows (which seems to be always), we have to avoid incoming seagulls as the bread flies back on us and they fight to get it.

Wednesday Sensory Group (Joe, Matt D and Murdoch) have had an interesting time as we all enjoy the morning, usually with the wonderful Catherine.  I’m sure I am more excited than ‘the guys’ when new things are introduced. Murdoch is great at using new items including the trampoline, don’t worry not a full tramp, a small version…I am tempted but it has a weight limit.

McDonalds for morning tea is a bit more complicated now we are back to Level 2, but the Macca’s taste the same.  With social distancing in place we have not seen our regular friends, which is sad.  Joe especially loves talking to his friends and used to love reading the paper but that’s no longer available.

No Choir at the moment…we had no choir, then we went back to choir to practise for the concert, then no concert and no choir!!  We had learnt new songs, lots of Beatles songs and Maori songs with actions – Paul Mac and Sarah A really make the poi’s fly and Clement and Anne have been bringing their guitar and ukulele along to play.  Fay, Michelle, Anne, Clement, John G, Paul Mac and Sarah A were all looking forward to the concert.  Hopefully we can have a Christmas concert at the end of the year and 2021 will be a better year for all of us.


Mary – It’s been a slow start to life after lockdown in the candle room, with many church celebrations being postponed, but they are now rebooking dates and the orders have begun to come in.  During this quiet time, we have stocked up our shelves in anticipation of orders for the end-of-year school leaver candles…the year has flown so fast, December will be upon us in no time!

A lovely outcome to lockdown is the presence of some of our more mature clients in the candle room.  As we had to ‘spread out’ in level two, they came in with their work from the workroom and never left!  It is generally a room of ‘mature grey-haired ladies’ who enjoy the quiet and warmth, with Kevin coming in on Thursday and Friday bringing his cheeky and cherry attitude to keep us on our toes!  Annie often comments on how ‘cosy’ it is and Maggie strides in as if she has always worked in here. We also enjoy the company of Laureen, Michelle, Helen and Sharon who enjoy a session or two throughout the week. 

As the orders begin to come in, I will bring our regular candle workers back in to help…Alecia, Cameron M and Biddy have been patient but also enjoying their time in the workroom and their usual community activities.  Remember to pop in and see our special candles (or browse our website www.thecandlemaker.co.nz) – they are a wonderful personalised gift which are made with such care…our candlemakers have every reason to be proud of themselves.

I will be busy booking all the Red Cross courses next week – every AJ’s staff member must keep their first aid qualification valid.  It will be slightly different this year as we can now do half of our revalidation online with only the scenarios and resuscitation segments done at the premises with the tutor…technology at its finest, as it only takes half a day!  I always have a giggle when I attend the course, as my daughter had her photo taken for the Red Cross book 10 years ago and it’s always on the screen when I arrive and now on the first page of the App…obviously they felt no need to rush and update it along with the other technological updates they have made!

Stay warm and dry everyone – great to see signs of Spring popping up!