Bimala Bhujel greets us with a big smile and handshake, making her way confidently through the Spotless office at the Palmerston North Hospital.

She’s been employed by Spotless, a company responsible for servicing the hospital, as a Cleaner for 18 months after landing the job with support from the local Pathways to Employment team and her manager, Jason Aylward.

“We liked the prospect of being able to offer an opportunity to people whom; understood the value of that opportunity, and would also value the prospect of being able to make a difference themselves,” Jason says about using the Pathways to Employment programme.

Bimala, who is originally from Nepal, was soon put forward for a role. Her responsible demeanour seemed like a perfect match for what they needed and she was asked in for an interview.

“I was very, very nervous,” she says. “It was my first interview in English and it was very hard for me.”

Nonetheless, she impressed Jason with her focus and he hired her. When Bimala is asked what she does on a day-to-day basis, she begins listing off chores: mopping, wiping down surfaces, and generally keeping things clean. However, Jason quickly insists that she’s underselling herself. 

“What she does is a critical function within the hospital. She ensures that the ICU [Intensive Care Unit] in the hospital is maintained to a very high standard and that it’s available to receive whomever it needs to on an ongoing basis. It’s an important role and not just anybody is placed into an ICU or theatres.”

Many hours of training are required before a person is allowed to join the team responsible for the upkeep of the ICU and Bimala begins to look a little embarrassed by the glowing review.

“It’s a role that can be easily misunderstood by a lot of people, but what we’re doing here is critical from an infection control point of view” Jason continues.

It’s been a successful match for Bimala and Spotless, one that has been replicated 7 times, with help from Red Cross Pathways to Employment.

“We’ve been very impressed with the programme and the support structures that are in place for employees once they come on board,” says Jason. “It’s a great programme and awareness of it is important as well. We’re pleased it’s led to a lot of mutually beneficial results.”

How to help

Our Pathways to Employment teams work with a range of clients from refugee backgrounds who have a wide variety of skills. If you're an employer with an available position, you can contact your Pathways to Employment team here.