When I came to The Salvation Army Education and Employment (E&E, previously Employment Plus), I had been unemployed for two years. I hardly ever went to school, and when I left, I got a couple of jobs—but my lack of attendance led to my dismissal. I would say I was depressed, really. I never wanted to go out; I just sat in my room playing games and didn’t want to face anyone. I really didn’t think I had any potential.
Work and Income (WINZ) sent me to a military-style camp called LSV (Limited Service Volunteer). It was really hard work, but boosted my confidence and I left on a high. It gave me the motivation to begin an E&E course. I immediately liked my tutor, Jacqui. She was firm and wise, but a real motherly figure, and that’s what I needed.
After a few weeks, though, I started to come down from my high, and I began bunking off again and missed a lot of days. Jacqui took me aside and had a real good talk to me. ‘If you want to make anything of yourself, this is your chance,’ she said. It was the wake-up call I needed. Jacqui knew that I had a fascination with Japan, and she had lived there for 20 years. So Jacqui promised that if I attended every day, she would teach me Japanese. I never missed a day after that.
I had heaps of learning experiences at E&E, brushing up on English and Maths. But the thing I learnt most was consistency—the environment made me want to be committed.
I could talk to Jacqui about anything, and she really helped me through tough times. When I had to leave home to support family members, The Salvation Army helped me out with food parcels.
I was told about a job opportunity at a Mitre 10 store that was being built, but I thought, ‘What do I know about tools?’ Jacqui convinced me that it would be a good chance, and as a class, we went through the interview questions and I practised what I would say. I was taken down to The Family Store to get some interview clothes.
When I got the job, I was so happy! And when I didn’t want to go, I thought about Jacqui and how much everyone had done for me, and that kept me going ’cos I was so grateful. After two months, I got a full-time contract, and now I have been promoted to a customer services supervisor. I love my job because I have a variety of tasks throughout the day. But the thing that means the most to me is that I’ve been given a lot of responsibility, and that people trust me.
This job has been the number-one achievement in my life, and number two is that I’ve proved to myself that I can commit to something. I’ve also made great friends, and my bestie is from work. Now, when I get time out to hang in my room, it feels like precious time. I would just say that now, I’m happy.
By Josiah Foster