Bill Caddey and the Coffee Network

23 March 2018

We recently caught up with Belconnen Community Service’s (BCS) Network Coordinator, Bill Caddey for a coffee and a chat.

BCS: What do you do as a network coordinator?

Bill: I drink far too much coffee and talk too much and, in the process, I connect people up to solve problems. I like coming up with ideas and solutions to what are often quite complex issues.

BCS: What sort of problems are you solving?

Bill: They’re often about people having access to support services that they need. This happens because people can’t afford it, they don’t have transport to get to the services, or the system is just too complicated to navigate. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have adequate internet access or it can even be because the forms or instructions are just too hard.  When people face barriers, you have to work around the wall; where there’s a roadblock, I try to create a detour.

BCS: How long have you been at BCS and what did you do before?

Bill: I’ve been at BCS for 18 months. Originally and for 20 years, I was a primary school teacher, living on the South Coast.  I decided I needed a change so I did some Post Graduate study in Outdoor Education. From that I was appointed to a job at Birrigi at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. I thought it was the ideal job and that I would be there forever!  Then the 2003 bushfires happened and everything changed. I still had a job but I got sick of walking around in charcoal.  It wasn’t a happy place.

I returned to the classroom for a while but found that it wasn’t for me any more so I looked around for something else. My next job was with the Heart Foundation, working with their walking groups and Jump Rope for Heart.  There I learnt that walking is a great way to solve many of the problems of the world. I was granted a Churchill Fellowship to research ways engage people in walking for recreation, health and transport. I travelled through Europe and there I learnt how to engage people in all sorts of things.

From the Heart foundation, I went to the Smith Family. I did that because I’ve always had an empathy with people who are struggling financially and I think they deserve a fair go.  In that role, I had to do a lot of connecting up of services.

Then this job at BCS came up and I thought, “This is the dream job.” It was an opportunity just too good to miss – and it fits me perfectly. It allows me the chance to explore opportunities and to implement them on the ground.

BCS: What sort of opportunities are you implementing now?

Bill:  Every Chance to Play is a project that I’m excited about. It’s a fund that enables children from low income families to play in local sporting teams. Every Chance to Play was founded in 2017 by a group of people who were concerned about the problem of Canberra kids missing out on sport because of high registration costs. We were convinced that the Canberra community could solve the problem. We founded a charity with the objective of paying 100 sports registrations, across eight sports, in the winter season of 2018. We have a board and network of volunteers includes teachers, lawyers, accountants, sports leaders, broadcasters, community workers, business leaders and full-time parents.

Another project that’s just getting off the ground is the Voluntary Adult Literacy Tutors (VALT) program with Libraries ACT. This program links adults who have difficulty with reading and writing with a volunteer tutor to help them reach their goals. This project sprang from a conversation with Emma Sckrabei from Ginninderry’s  Spark Training and Employment Program.  She said that she had some people wanting to join her pre-employment programs whose low literacy skills were a barrier to participation. BCS and other organisations around Canberra are referring people to the program and Libraries ACT is providing training and coordination for the volunteers.

BCS: Thanks for the coffee and the chat Bill, you certainly can talk! Can you share one of your favourite quotes for our readers?

Bill: Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than intelligence.” I agree with him.

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