The moment Alex walked into the Wesley ParentsNext Grafton office, he made it clear to Helen, his Wesley ParentsNext consultant, that he had already set his sights on his dream job – to become a pilot.
“I want to fly airplanes. Can you help me?” Alex asked Helen.
Helen chuckled and replied, “I love your enthusiasm, but I don’t think we’re being realistic here.”
Since Alex had no aviation experience, Helen wasn’t convinced. But then she quickly learned that Alex was fiercely determined to achieve his dream.
“It was a challenge to get me to look at his goal as a credible option, but I’m so pleased he proved me wrong,” Helen recalls.
Alex smiles brightly and tells Helen, “I’d already made up my mind. I reckon I could get in a plane and fly it.”
Connecting to Wesley ParentsNext
Alex came to Wesley Mission in 2018 through the Wesley ParentsNext program, a flexible and supportive program for parents and carers with young children aged under five and half.
The team at Wesley ParentsNext work closely with parents and carers to identify their short and long-term goals, and then support them to plan and work towards their future study and get job-ready by the time their youngest child starts school. And with its wraparound services, Wesley ParentsNext can connect parents or carers with specialised supports to suit their needs.
Most parents and carers are referred to Wesley ParentsNext by Centrelink, but if they meet the eligibility criteria they can also self-refer.
When Alex started working with Helen, he was a single dad to three boys and worked temporary jobs to make ends meet.
Helen was inspired by Alex’s level of dedication to wanting to put the hard work in so that he could succeed in his goals, and she was glad that through Wesley ParentsNext she was able to further support him.
“Alex recognised the need to enrol his youngest son into childcare and so this became the focus of his engagement with Wesley ParentsNext,” Helen shares.
Despite the pressures of single parenthood, Alex remained confident to pursue his lifelong dream. The next couple of weeks, Alex called Helen to excitedly tell her he had just secured a volunteering job at the local airfield.
“I drive past the airfield every day. So, one day, I pulled up and offered my services for any kind of help,” Alex recalls.
“I was just blown away. It was actually a formal arrangement – working at the airfield in return for flying lessons,” Helen adds.
“It was absolutely the best thing that he had just done that.”
Finding training and support
When Alex first approached business owner Peter Clement of Clement Aero Maintenance and Training, Peter felt they both shared the same passion for flying and agreed to help Alex develop his aviation skills through training and mentorship.
“When I met Alex, he was a pretty keen young guy. He had a good aptitude for work and he loved aviation,” Peter shares.
“He was a person who was honest, had integrity and self-respect for himself. He genuinely wanted to try and do a bit in his life to make things better. And I thought if I could just give someone a bit of a hand up – well, I’m happy to help [with] that.”
With his can-do attitude, Alex offered to do aircraft maintenance and in exchange, Peter gave him flying lessons for Alex to earn his qualification. Peter was impressed by Alex and even went out of his way to pay for Alex’s pilot’s uniform at his own expense.
“I bought him industrial work-safe shoes and had his uniform done. I just wanted him to feel like he belonged.”
“It feels epic. As soon as I knew I could have some sort of foot in the door, I was ready,” says Alex.
During Alex’s training, Wesley ParentsNext also provided funding towards the training fees as well as the training manuals and textbooks to help him in his study.
Cleared for take off
Even with the many challenges that came his way, Alex’s eagerness and passion to fly never changed. And he was grateful to have the support of Wesley ParentsNext throughout his whole journey.
“I’ve been in and out of employment agencies since I was a young bloke. This is the first time I’ve had a result and any kind help. This place is a blessing,” says Alex.
Helen says she’s so proud of how far Alex has come.
“Honestly, I never thought that I would be helping people to get jobs as pilots! It has been a pleasure to work with Peter who has embraced Alex and the concept of Wesley ParentsNext,” Helen continues.
“And it would be the absolute highlight of my time in Wesley ParentsNext to see Alex succeed.”
In just 18 months, Alex earned his L1 Maintenance Authority license and is currently working towards his L2.
To parents who might feel unsure about their future, Alex shares this piece of advice:
Growing up, Alex had always had his heart set on flying. Now, he strives to be the best dad to his children and is more driven than ever to reach new heights with his high-flying career.
To find out more about Wesley ParentsNext visit Wesley ParentsNext – Wesley Mission