March 4, 2024

At just 22 years old, Alfie Linn is already a double medallist on the world stage, winning silver and bronze in the Men’s Doubles in table tennis at the 2023 Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France.

Swimming, basketball, cricket and lawn bowls are also passions for the recently nominated Nelson Sportsman of the Year, but this year Alfie means business.

After leaving Waimea College in 2022, with the support of Choices NZ, Alfie has made a big splash in the Nelson job market, taking every opportunity to learn new skills and make a good living.

Alfie began his career volunteering for Connings Food Market in Nelson, working as Produce Assistant, a paid role, for two hours per week – a job that he loves.

Most recently, Alfie has completed the Dive into Success programme, which over eight weeks provides people with intellectual disability, autism or neurodiversity the opportunity to gain knowledge, develop confidence and learn transferable skills for the workplace.

It’s a relatively new joint initiative between Choices NZ and Community Leisure Management (CLM), which manages Richmond Aquatic Centre in Nelson and Lido Aquatic Centre in Palmerston North.

The ultimate goal of the programme is for the trainees to gain casual, part-time or full-time employment in an area of their choice.

Alfie says it was a great learning curve. “I found it hard at first because I didn’t know what I needed to do, but the staff wrote out my jobs on a list and that helped me learn what I needed to do, like cleaning, sweeping, washing windowsills, rubbish and recycling,” says Alfie.

His favourite part? “Doing jobs and being part of the team and seeing the jobs people were doing like swim school, for instance, and lifeguarding.”

Toni Griffiths, National Manager Choices NZ, says Dive into Success is designed to encourage the development of skills that can be transferred to other work opportunities and other areas of the trainee’s life.

“It’s all about building confidence in the workplace,” says Toni. “At the end of the eight weeks, trainees have gained an understanding of the day-to-day expectations.

“Our goal is that people will come out of this programme ready to tackle the job market.”

Alfie isn’t new to work – with the support of Choices NZ over the past two years he has also volunteered at Nook café, The Stables Restaurant & Tavern, Sprig + Fern Brewery and The Buzz Nelson, a work skills programme for disabled people making the transition from school.

Through Dive into Success, Alfie was supported to practise a formal interview, develop an understanding of employment agreements and learn more about working in a team environment.

“I learned about writing about myself and the things I’ve done and my work experience,” says Alfie. “Also, my other achievements and awards in sports and table tennis representing New Zealand, Māori songs and haka.”

If there are two things you need to know about Alfie, it’s that he loves meeting new people and being part of a team. Alfie’s initial goal was to be in a meet-and-great role as he has a great rapport with people and thrives in a people environment.

“I learned to be polite and never to be rude to anyone,” says Alfie.” I needed to smile and be friendly – ‘Hello, how are you? How are you doing?’ – I learned to answer questions about myself and ask questions about the job, like, ‘Who will I work with? Will I have a break? What will my hours be’?”

Now that he’s completed the programme, Alfie’s goal is to extend his hours at Connings, where he says he works with a great team, or get another part-time job in the community.

He’s also off to Turkey in March to compete in the 2024 Virtus Global Games.

Once back on home soil, Alfie says he’d like to help with the children at the Aquatic Centre, teaching them how to swim. “I would also like lots of different work experiences like the hospital, airport, hospitality, cafés, the dentist with my brother, shop work and supermarkets like PAK’nSAVE and New World or in a retirement home.

“I love meeting people and love greeting people. I’m great with helping people.”

Caption: ‘Swimming’ in swim goggles from the Richmond Aquatic Centre lost property collection are Swim Magic Head Instructor Jo Loveridge and Dive into Success participant Alfie Linn.

Girl and farm dog sitting on a muddy farm bike.

This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.

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