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The Wayside Chapel – Pathways Programme.

Pathways project officer Amanda Ford-Asbeck and Wayside visitor

/ programme participant Danielle Golding.

Since 1964 the Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross, and later Bondi, has supported people affected by homelessness, addiction, disability and mental illness by offering them community and breaking down barriers of judgment; it’s a place where people from all walks of life are “welcome to just be”. It is an inclusive environment that operates under the banner “Love over Hate”. Its motto is “making community with no ‘us’ and ‘them’”.

Wayside’s Pathways Project helps people into employment on their own terms. The project connects people who are ready to move into work, training or study with organisations that can help and support them to succeed.

And they are matched with mentors to help them through. In the past six months of the programme almost 100% of participants have secured employment or accessed further education, many have been employed at the Wayside Chapel itself as part of its cafe and catering arm. Over 200 people access the Pathways programme annually.

Amanda Ford-Asbeck: The biggest barriers faced by the people we work with are addiction and mental-health issues.

One of the first things people want to do when they start to get their life on track is look for work and become independant. What we love to see, what we look for, is that spark. When we see it we can go with their momentum, and we can give them the tools and pathways they need, at their own pace, to help them realise that. It has to come from them. We don’t push. And we don’t rush anyone. We find out what they want and need, and help them get it.

For the people we work with, getting into a job or training can involve a long and bumpy road that often ends in frustration and defeat rather than employment. We run clinics that help people prepare for work and decide what they need to get there, such as a Centrelink clinic once a week, an employment clinic, a computer clinic and a study clinic. We help people with writing a resume. We get them clothes they need for job interviews and for work.

I’m most proud of seeing people branch out. Because it means people can be independant. We walk alongside them, and we are led by them. The relationships with the mentors are important because the visitors feel like they have someone on their side. We offer practical support, but it can be emotional as well.

I’m so proud of Danielle and what she’s achieved. And I think she’s an exceptional artist – she’s been going through her studies with flying colours. And I’ve seen her confidence and her art practice grow. We’ve been able to support her with our study clinic, but also smaller things, like buying her some canvasses and paints.

Danielle Golding: I’m studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts. The study clinics have helped me with my uni assessments, and have given me confidence. Being connected, with Amanda’s help, to the university disability office has also helped. I started at Wayside Chapel, in Bondi, with cooking classes and went into the study clinic. I was always interested in art at school, before I dropped out. So this way I can continue with an interest of mine. I’m proud of the art I can produce. And I’ve got distinctions at university. And it looks likely that I will have an exhibition soon.

I would recommend the programme to people. If they want to do something hard, like going back to study, like I did, I think this is a way to do it. For me it’s been a long process, but I felt supported the whole way through. I feel grateful for Amanda and Wayside’s help.

I feel like I can accomplish more, and I feel positive about the future.

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