YOUth Community program empowers Levi to make new friends and gain employment

Levi started in the MatchWorks YOUth Community program last year with the ultimate goal of making new friends.

But the 18-year-old has gained so much more than that through the specialised program, which is part of the Australian Government’s Empowering YOUth initiative.

When he finished schooling at 17, Levi found it difficult to transition into paid employment and was restricted in accessing some services due to being a New Zealand citizen. Levi also has Autism and a learning disability.

Levi in his Coles uniform.

Levi in his Coles uniform.

When his mother Pene saw the program’s flyer, she initially thought the YOUth Community program was for “mainstream” youth. She had almost given up hope of ever getting any type of assistance for her son.

Strathpine YOUth Community program mentor Lisa Bowers said although Pene hesitated at first, she soon decided to make contact, come in to see the program venue and meet staff.

“Pene said that as soon as she entered the room and met staff and participants she knew that this was a great supportive and inclusive environment for Levi,” Lisa said.

“Levi’s participation in the program quickly saw new friendships form as his peers took him under their wing. Levi’s competitive spirit soon shone through especially when he attended the Wellness Wednesday program, participated in beach cricket, group barbeques, online quizzes and winning several prizes through the program’s phone app.

“Levi’s friend Geoff has also been a great friend and support, mentoring him to use public transport and teaching him the correct stops from his home to the program in Strathpine. This was a big step for Levi who has always relied on his parents for transport.”

Although Levi reached his goal of making new friends, he expressed he would like to work and earn an income. Program staff, Levi and Pene met to discuss employment options and the necessary supports required.

Program staff introduced Levi to MatchWorks team member Chris who saw potential in Levi for a part-time Trolley Collector position at the local Coles. An interview was arranged between the Coles Supervisor Ross and Levi, with program staff also attending for support.

Levi completed an online test and passed, moving on to the induction stage where he learnt Work Health and Safety processes and the duties required for the role. Levi was offered a work trial and commenced employment on January 25, 2018.

“We supported Levi in his initial weeks at work by shadowing his duties, while he worked alongside supermarket staff,” Lisa said.

“Levi’s ability to push multiple trollies up hill and use the correct strapping was soon mastered. A natural ability to communicate with the public, show respect and deliver quality customer service was a delight to see as Levi settled into his new role and surroundings. Levi also memorised his employee identification number and the login process quickly and has developed great relationships with his colleagues Chris and Michael and his supervisor Ross.

“We have supported Levi on his journey to work in various ways by offering help and support to find employment, providing transport to and from the program and work, providing a quality resume and teaching him interview skills and setting goals. We will continue to offer our support to ensure that Levi maintains his employment and becomes independent.”

The YOUth Community Strathpine team will continue to set realistic goals for Levi including possible links to supportive social groups where he can enjoy activities outside of the home and engage with people his own age.

Program staff will continue to meet regularly with Levi and his family until this is achieved.

What is YOUth Community?

YOUth Community is being delivered by MatchWorks over the next two years in Victorian, South Australian and Queensland locations under the Australian Government’s Empowering YOUth initiative.

Empowering YOUth supports new and innovative approaches to help long-term unemployed young people aged 15 to 24 years to improve their skills and move toward sustainable employment.

Find out more about the program here.