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After a four-year make-over involving more than 200 people and the generous support of local businesses, Bedford Cottage is now officially open.

The heritage Mount Gambier home was gifted to Bedford but in a dilapidated state with rotting floors, cracked walls and even an unruly tree growing through the living room.

The repair cost was exorbitant, however, Bedford reached out to local employment provider Job Prospects who offered to help through the government’s Work for the Dole scheme. More than 180 jobseekers learnt new skills, obtained a ‘White Card’ construction certificate and 55 of those participants have now secured paid employment in related industries.

It was a positive experience for our supported workers too. Lead hand Dave Wilsmore and his team produced three solid timber beds and other stunning wooden furniture. Add to that donations from local businesses and our very own Women’s Auxiliary who raised funds to buy a kitchen.

Bedford Cottage will be used as a respite centre and there are also plans to open a Day Options centre for one of the fastest growing regions in South Australia.

I was determined to build this classic timber furniture with my team. I have another vision impaired worker who shares the same passion for furniture making so I took him under my wing and we created measured templates and got to work.

— Dave Wilsmore