The philosophy of community-led strategies which is driving real change in Logan is one gaining traction all over the world.
One place across the pond which is embracing the community-led philosophy, this time changing lives for young adults, is LIFT Social Enterprise, the brainchild of Jody Hamilton, which began this year in New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay region.
Focusing on forging real connections with the young people in the area, LIFT is more than a youth employment agency – providing work-readiness training, pastoral support, resources and more to young people, its approach has been revolutionary and its successes many given how young the organisation is.
Jody held a workshop at Griffith University Logan Campus this month, hosted by good friend of Logan Together Alicia Wilderman of Ingersoll Consulting, where she shared her insights. The inspiring, insightful workshop was attended by people from as far away as Canberra, keen to hear about Jody’s approach.
Jody, inspired to found the organisation by her young son, said she knew something had to change – and so did the approach taken to engage young people in work.
“Looking at my son, I know that because of his heritage and where he lives, the odds are stacked against him in terms of opportunities and life paths – so you might ask why I wouldn’t move to a new place, but I love where I live,” said Jody.
“He was the inspiration for me trying to turn things around.”
Jody’s customers are young people seeking employment who were falling through the gaps in the current system.
“We connect with young people where they are – we don’t ask them to find us, we go out and find them – and we provide a place free of judgement, where we really encourage them to consider what they want in life,” she said.
“These are kids who have disengaged with education, they may have been in the correctional system, they may have a chaotic home life, or be involved with drugs or gangs – those are the young people we want, and those are the people who keep on turning up to our training.”
Jody has engaged government departments, local businesses and sector professionals on board to support LIFT, and remains adamant that the young people remain the drivers of what they do and how they do it.