The Covid-19 lockdowns were particularly tough for those looking for work . If they didn’t have a computer, phone or internet, it was almost impossible to apply for jobs without face-to-face contact. CoAct / A Bridge to Work was able to continue support over this time.
A Bridge to Work delivers one-on-one support to help social housing residents find the right job sooner. The program is voluntary, meaning that those who become involved are proactive in wanting to better their lives. To be in the program, participants either apply online, via their Housing Manager or an outside support person. It’s an intensive, long term program which continues 6 months after participants find work or study. Participants need to put in the effort to reap their reward.
Noelene lives in social housing and applied for A Bridge to Work. Natalie has been working with Noelene to achieve her goals .
“So much can be accomplished with the right support network”. Noelene – A Bridge to Work program participant
They began working together in July 2021. Noelene was worried that lacking qualifications, recent employment, referees and technology would impact her ability to find work. Natalie encouraged Noelene to apply for a quarterly CoAct / Bridge Housing Technology Scholarship. In November 2021, Noelene was awarded a refurbished laptop and six months of internet data. In February, Bridge Housing awarded her a data subsidy to offset the cost of a pre-paid phone plan and CoAct provided a refurbished iPhone allowing Noelene to participate more actively in the program. The next step was teaching her how to use a computer.
The two sat together to practise using the computer, and Natalie helped her set up a proper workstation using a second monitor and mouse donated by Bridge Housing. Having access to a computer and internet at home has also allowed Noelene to take an active role in the community. Natalie connected Noelene with another program participant who runs art workshops online for Bridge Housing, and Noelene began to participate in the Community Garden where she lives. Expanding Noelene’s interests and social connections was a positive step, increasing her confidence and supports.
Initially, Natalie helps participants identify their short-and long-term goals. She establishes what they want to achieve, including a return to work or study. She then works out the steps needed to achieve the goals. She teaches them to advocate for themselves and make the most of available services and resources.
Key supports include goal setting, application help, interview preparation, clothing choice, interview transport, qualifications, childcare and more. Natalie seeks out funding sources to help participants secure short courses, clothing and checks needed to start work. She also builds confidence by teaching how to ask questions and talk with employers, recruiters and employment consultants.
A supportive job campaign achieves Noelene’s goal
Noelene had not worked for some time. So, Natalie helped her update her resume, draft cover letters, apply for jobs, and get a paid Working with Children check. Natalie develops relationships with employers and recruitment firms to assist jobseekers. One excellent contact, Victoria from Randstad Recruitment, was receptive to helping A Bridge to Work jobseekers find roles. Natalie explained that as it is a voluntary program, the candidates are eager to work, but may need some reassurance or support. Victoria understood and has since taken an interest in helping A Bridge to Work participants. Natalie helped Noelene apply for a role through Randstad as an after-hours school assistant. Noelene was ecstatic to learn that she had been selected. She and Natalie sat together to complete many of the onboarding requirements, and Natalie helped Noelene work through any apprehension about starting work by ensuring that she was as prepared as possible.
Noelene’s tasks include assisting classroom teachers with the organisation and supervision of after-school activities. Noelene loves kids and has babysat in the past, so she knew she would enjoy working with them. Noelene is also great with public transport, so she was confident that she would find any schools she is placed at easily. She began working in late February, and is enjoying the position. Noelene is happy to have ongoing support from CoAct / A Bridge to Work. She’s accomplished a great deal in the last few months, and is just getting started!
A Bridge to Work is based on an Intensive Case Management model, meaning we work closely with residents to develop their work-readiness and support them into employment. This is done in collaboration with CoAct’s expert local employment service providers and networking with potential employers. It’s available to social housing residents living in Bridge Housing and Metro Community Housing who want to find a job or improve their work situation.