Western Sydney young people, and older people who receive care in their homes, are the winners from a new partnership between Uniting and Neighbourhood Jobs.
People aged between 15 and 24, who are facing barriers to employment, are tending the gardens and properties of older residents who need affordable help with lawn and general maintenance.
Neighbourhood Jobs started in October last year as one of the most exciting Wentworth Community Housing programs with the ultimate goal of securing employment for all participants.
The program lasts for 12 weeks and in addition to coaching and support, the young people are employed for 6 weeks before moving into traineeships, apprenticeships and employment, mostly in the landscaping industry.
Trained and supervised by a professional team, the young employees provide high quality services such as lawn maintenance, basic landscaping, bulky waste removal, and some exterior cleaning.
In September, Neighbourhood Jobs secured a 36-month contract as Uniting’s preferred provider in the region with the potential to service up to 150 of Uniting’s home and aged care clients.
Jacob King hopes the program will help him gain a long-term job.
"Neighbourhood Jobs has given me the confidence and experience to want to follow my passion for landscaping and gain a fulltime apprenticeship. It gave me a go when no one else would, and the support from the team has been amazing."
Vajiheh Maraghi says the raised garden beds installed by the Neighbourhood Jobs team will help her and her husband keep growing vegetables despite their mobility issues.
“We are from Iran and have been living in Australia for 20 years. Gardening has always been part of our lives and we have already used the raised garden beds to plant herbs and eggplants. We want to plant tomatoes in the future too,” Ms Maraghi said.
Cheryl Tarantola, Area Manager of Uniting Home & Community Care said, “Many older people want to stay at home but sometimes they need extra assistance with physical jobs. To help older people stay at home and enable young people get work at the same time is a real win-win.”
Neighbourhood Job’s Business Manager, Damian Dabrowski, believes the contract with Uniting was brokered due to the quality of the service the young employees provide as well as the social purpose behind the business.
“This is the first formal agreement we have with an organisation in Western Sydney, which is a significant achievement. We’ve had over 20 Uniting clients referred to us and all of them have been pleased with the service and seeing the young people working hard. We’ve had more than 15 clients book us in for regular maintenance,” Mr. Dabrowski said.
Neighbourhood Jobs’ young employees have serviced residences in Blacktown, Cumberland, The Hills Shire, Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains.
In October, youth unemployment rose in Australia to 12.4%, more than double the overall jobless rate of 5.3%1.
Neighbourhood Job receives funding as part of though NSW Department of Education Youth Employment Innovation Challenge, a $10 million NSW Government program that provides funding to innovative solutions and ideas that help young people find employment in NSW.
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