John* was living in supported accommodation and managing a mild intellectual disability and mental illness. At risk of homelessness, he was referred to For Change Co., a hospitality-based social enterprise with the mission of eliminating youth homelessness through its paid training and employment program: Pathways to Change.

Trainees learn on the job, gradually taking on more responsibility as they experience the organisation’s multiple venues: a coffee cart, several cafes, and a crepe-making food truck.

John joins the For Change Co. team

John had many different passions and hobbies and was very goals oriented – he just needed a little help. “John brought a great sense of humour and a larger-than-life personality to his work in our program,” says For Change Co. Co-Founder and Managing Director Tenille Gilbert. “He found the work provided great structure and routine, as well as a safe space where he could be himself.”

For Change Co ending youth homelessness
For Change Co. Co-Founder and Managing Director Tenille Gilbert.

“I don’t know what I would have been like without For Change Co,” says John. “They have been supporting me so much and I’m feeling really grateful for how that’s been helping me emotionally and physically. The trainers are so good to talk to and hang out with and teach me really unique skills that I’ve never learned before.”

The program offers support beyond paid training: John attended a financial literacy workshop to learn how to budget and better manage his finances; and an employment goal-setting workshop, where he was taught how to write a resume and prepare for job interviews.

“We also provided mentorship and support in his life outside our program and helped him connect with different people and organisations in line with his personal goals,” says Tenille. “We were able to arrange a crash course in music production. John got to create some beats and record some of his music in a professional studio!”

For Change Co ending youth homelessness
Pathways to Change trainees outside the cafe.

Graduating from Pathways to Change

John spent seven months in the program, learning everything from latte art and customer service to problem solving and working as part of a team.

After graduation he landed a stable retail job and transitioned to independent living, using his new budgeting skills to stay on top of finances. “The financial literacy workshops helped me understand my finances better and plan ahead,” says John. “I use their budgeting resources all the time and whenever I want to spend money on something I always do my math and check to see that I will always have enough money for rent and bills.”

He’s no longer at risk of becoming homeless – and continues to pursue his music dreams!

Quin’s story: becoming part of a team

Quin started Pathways to Change in 2021 and immediately took to coffee-making. Training became a way for Quin to step out of their comfort zone and try new things, showing great courage and determination to persist with training even when they found it hard.

For Change Co ending youth homelessness
Coffee-making training.

“Your program has been amazing for Quin and they even commented that it is the only thing they have ever stuck to and not dropped out of when times got hard,” said Quin’s support worker. “The biggest takeaway that Quin has had from your program, other than the skill of making coffee, is the personal self-development and confidence this has given them. To work with others and be a part of a team is a huge step for Quin.”

Quin ultimately showed incredible improvement, not just in the technical skills they were learning but in building social connectedness. “I really loved working with my trainers and learning from them,” says Quin. “I’m grateful my first working experience was here.”

Quin graduated the program in 2023 and began working and studying retail.

Danny’s story: building confidence

Danny began Pathways for Change in late 2022. While he was keen to complete new tasks, his lack of work experience meant interacting with customers was an area he found challenging. Danny was encouraged to take on this task more and more consistently as he progressed through the program, culminating in a trainee takeover day at For Change Co.’s Brunswick cafe, where he spent a day running the point of sale section.

For Change Co ending youth homelessness
For Change Cafe Brunswick.

“I like coming here. I liked being able to communicate with everybody and build skills,” says Danny. “It helped boost my confidence and I definitely needed that. There were three sets of customers today and my trainer was out the back and I thought, ‘I have to take these orders’. At the start of the program I would have never thought I’d be able to do that. That’s one of the things I appreciate most.”

Danny graduated the program in 2023 and was supported into an employment opportunity at McDonalds. Danny is coupling his work with study and feels like he is in a good financial position to transition to independent housing in the coming months.

“Danny has shown more confidence in his customer service skills and overall confidence in general,” says Danny’s support worker. “Danny will carry these skills over into his new role. He has really loved being a part of the program, he speaks highly of the trainers and staff and is thankful for all the skills he has learned along the way. This program provides such a supportive environment for young people to thrive and gain transferable skills to carry them into future employment endeavours.”

For Change Co ending youth homelessness

Breaking the cycle of youth homelessness

For Change Co. believes in the power of employment to build skills, experiences, confidence and social connectedness, all of which contribute to a young person’s sense of self and ability to create the future of their choosing.

The social enterprise received a $15,000 Community Grant for its evidence-based training and employment program, which was designed by hospitality and youth homelessness experts. The grant contributed to 22 young people graduating from the program.

About the Community Grants Program

Every year the Sisters of Charity Foundation provides grants of up to $15,000 to small not-for-profits across Australia, like For Change Co., that use clever ways to fight disadvantage, loneliness, suffering and oppression.

Our grants have been used to support a wide range of people, including those facing poverty and disadvantage, people living with disabilities, at-risk youth, refugees and asylum seekers, First Nations people, those experiencing homelessness or domestic violence, elderly people, and those who have been incarcerated or affected by substance abuse and their families.

Learn more at Community Grants Program.

*Name changed for privacy reasons.

How We Help

Each year we’re able to make a difference to thousands of people across the country with funds generously donated by compassionate Australians. We support initiatives that focus on benefiting the disadvantaged, marginalised and socially isolated people in our community.

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