Georgia speaks with evident passion about the way the wrap-around services of VisionWest’s training centre works for clients facing a variety of challenges.
She cites the case of one man who was referred to them to seek assistance in getting ready to apply for work.
“We found right at the outset that his reading and writing skills were not up to scratch, which was going to obviously count against him in his attempts to apply for work. People come to us as just a name or a case file number but we get to know them as a whole person. We quickly enrolled him in our literacy and numeracy programme, which is part of the training we offer here.
“This is quite crucial stuff – it’s one thing to be asked to apply for a job, but if you can’t write you can’t fill out the job application, obviously.”
“The man did well and made huge strides in his ability to read and write, and although his circumstances changed and he found himself back in a caregiving role with his child instead of full-time work, he left us brimming with confidence and with key skills under his belt.
“But the real pay-off came in how we were able to help this man’s teenage son, who faced many of the same issues as his dad, in that school wasn’t his thing, We managed to get this boy involved in our carpentry programme as well as literacy and numeracy training.
“The young boy, like his father, really responded to the teachers here and the net result is that he’ll leave here eventually with some great prospects as a carpentry apprentice with Fletchers, so we’re delighted at this series of outcomes for one family.
“All of our trainees plug in to more than one service here on site. All of our Mahi Ora clients for example get budget advice as part of their training to be better equipped for life. There’s not much point in getting people ready for work if they can’t budget properly and understand how to handle the wages they’ll receive when they eventually get work.
“The whole purpose in our Mahi Ora programme is to look beyond what’s written down on some CV or reference, because to be honest some of the people we help don’t even have that and you can’t show a prospective employer a blank sheet of paper.
“We try to find out if our clients are actually passionate about something or gifted in some way that we can identify and then say to an employer, hey this person has promise in a given area.
“I think about another young fellow who was in his mid-twenties who had never had a job and had some learning difficulties. But he had this dream – he’d always wanted to be a barista in a café.
“We provided him with training for his Food and Hygiene Health and Safety certificate. We have a relationship with Z Petrol stations here in West Auckland and we were able to make a case for him and urged them to give him a shot, which they did.
“He worked so hard and picked all these extra shifts and was totally at home in this new role, loved his new uniform, loved everything about it.
“One of our support staff rang to check up on how he was doing at the station and they said he wasn’t there, which raised her eyebrows, but they said he’d left to go get a full time job as a barista in quite a funky café and he’s totally in his element. He calls one of the tutors here every now and then and says he misses us!
“It’s all about ‘capturing’ people’s dreams and then empowering them to go for it.”