Car detailing venture builds skills and sense of pride

Francis, 48, from Fitzgibbon has a passion for cars. If you point to any part of an engine, he can tell you what it is and what it does.

Seeing this passion inspired Centacare support worker Taewoo to start a car washing venture from HAND Social and Life Skills Hub so Francis and a couple of other disability care clients could pursue their passions.

Four years later, the team of five clients and support workers have forged a reputation as the most trusted car detailers around.

“People bring their cars to us before they put them on the market to sell,” said Taewoo, who has been a support worker at Centacare for 16 years. “They know we put 100 percent effort into each car and trust that it will come out spotless. We have a lot of repeat customers.”

Every Tuesday at 9am the team gather at “The Hut” – a shed that HAND clients use for woodworking, a short walk from the main Hub in Wilston. They work until 2pm, with breaks as needed, restoring one lucky customer’s car to its former glory.

They charge $20 for a small car and $25 for a large car and use the proceeds to buy special equipment that helps them on the job. They’ve purchased a high pressure hose and a buffer and the remaining proceeds are divided between them. Francis is saving his share of the proceeds to buy something special.

The team work together like a well-oiled machine. Everyone has set tasks (and their favourite tasks) but they rotate on a regular basis so everyone develops different skills.

“When they come onto the team, they need to learn how to use the equipment and cleaning products in a safe and effective way,” said Taewoo. “It’s a big responsibility and they love it – it gives them a real sense of achievement. They see the smile on the customer’s face and it gives them a real buzz. They take a huge amount of pride in their work.”

“I like using the high pressure hose and the vacuum to clean the boot,” said Francis. “I’m really good at it. I have very good attention to detail.”

Joel, 30, from Bardon works on the cars with 1:1 support from his support worker Brandon. “I used to work at the Salvos but I had to stop during COVID-19,” he said. “I started to feed the ducks for something to do but then I saw the guys washing cars and thought I might enjoy it. It helps me to focus on tasks, especially cleaning the wheels and number plates.”

“The guys are also developing their confidence and communication skills, liaising with customers and getting to know the regulars,” said Taewoo. “Most of the guys hadn’t had a job before so it’s a great opportunity for them to learn the value of money and how much work goes into making it!

“They tell me that their goal is to have their own car washing business one day. They have such a good work ethic and have really stepped up to the plate – I have no doubt they could do it.”

Do you have passions, aspirations and plans?

From meeting new people and making long lasting friendships to learning new skills and building confidence in the areas that matter to you most, we offer a range of social and life skills activities that can help you get there.