Opportunity Pathways brings careers to life in Wollongong

In the heart of Wollongong, a new Wesley Mission office is providing increasing community services to people most in need across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region.

The office was officially opened on 22 October, which coincided with the launch of Wesley Mission’s Opportunity Pathways program. The new office is also home to vocational training, home care, counselling, mental health support and suicide prevention.

“Bringing these services together under one roof is a new chapter in our support of people in the region: to give people greater access to our broad range of community services,” said the Rev Keith V Garner AM, CEO and Superintendent of Wesley Mission.

Unemployment in the Illawarra South Coast region is at 5.8 per cent, which is higher than the NSW average*. Opportunity Pathways is helping change these statistics by supporting people who receive community housing assistance to access education, training, work and housing.

At the launch Mr Garner interviewed Opportunity Pathways client, Paige, a single mother who suffers from social anxiety to the point where she struggled to leave her own home. Not only can Paige now leave her house, but she confidently engages with customers at her newly acquired job at Coles. Thanks to Opportunity Pathways, Paige completed training to develop the necessary skills for her to thrive in the workplace.

“My life goals were to just be more confident, stable financially and I’m getting there already. I got my job in late August and I’m already saving. So I’m accomplishing most of my goals already,” said Paige.

Through regular support from Opportunity Pathways staff, Paige says she is now more confident in herself and as a parent.

“My son has noticed a change in me. He always says, ‘You’re so happy mum’. He can definitely tell the difference.”

Two Wesley Vocational Institute students, Emma and Josh also shared how their lives have been transformed since completing a Certificate lll In Individual Support (Ageing) in Wollongong.

“I came into the course with low confidence,” said Josh. “But all the staff were very good… and as I went through the course my confidence built up.

“Wesley Mission has transformed my life by just getting my foot into the door to a new career path.”

Emma said: “I’m a mum of two young children under the age of three and obviously without the help of all these guys I probably wouldn’t have finished.”

“I’ve now got a job out of my course and I’m actually here today doing another course to better myself.”

*Source: ABS Labour Force Survey

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