Inspired (and distressed) by an enlightening conversation with Paul Moulds and Robbin Moulds, The Pure Collective co-created a pilot program with him called “Symbols of Hope” in 2017. A community driven scholarship program to empower people who have fallen through gaps in the system. What started as a training program assisting refugees and asylum seekers will this year expand to also include a training and employment program for at-risk youth, indigenous Australians and people living with mental illness and disabilities. The program managed over 2500 hours of on the job training which was in addition to its work with Bright Hospitality which paid for over 1,577 hours of training in 2015-16, for other disadvantage groups towards their Cert III in hospitality. Taking total group training to over 4000 hours of training, preparing students and scholarship recipients for employment and self sufficiency by 2018.
The scholarship program and training model was originally built for refugees and asylum seekers who did not have access to work rights and also did not receive any government benefits, but who were legally allowed to be in the country. Many were overcoming significant trauma and were being forced into working illegally and sleeping in parks or in cars. Many of the women we came across had experienced some form of abuse. The program gave them support - a way to get their life back on track, build confidence, develop new skills and prepare for a time in the future when they were legally allowed to enter the workforce. It also allowed them to witness the other welcoming side of the Australian culture, which many had not experienced.
This scholarship was offered initially as an enhancement to the core support services provided by the Asylum Seeker Project run by the The Salvation Army in Auburn.
The longer term goal was to expand this pilot program to broader categories of marginalised and disadvantaged groups within our society, across the different social businesses that make up The Pure Collective.
The scholarship includes a hospitality training program, that provides students with specialised skills, customer service training and professional development in hospitality. This allows them to support their pursuit of longer term career aspirations or further education. Participants also have access to personal development programs to help establish and work towards personal long term goals, in any aspect of their life.
The hospitality training program allows the experienced team to oversee learning at our venues and educate participants about workplace expectations to help prepare them for employment.
The partnership with Salvation Army Auburn means refugees and asylum seekers in the program are provided with housing, basic needs, travel costs, food, uniforms and counselling, along with the opportunity for mentorship.
Symbol (65 Berry Street, North Sydney) was proud to host the first and original pilot program participants and since then the group has been excited to support the more formal expansion of this innovative, empowerment program.
Participants have since been trained across all other venues in some capacity. We look forward to the growth of our catering business so we can make an even greater impact through increased capacity.
Since early 2019, we have noticed a decline in refugees without work rights in Australia, and hence have begun to broaden the scope to include new participants from a wide range of different backgrounds.
With any business surpluses, beyond our impact jars voting model, flowing through The Pure Foundation, we have made the commitment to co-funding the Symbols of Hope program.
We are extremely grateful to program partners:
Ben & Jerry's
Planet Wheeler Foundation
Shark Island Institute
The Sky Foundation
The Pure Foundation
Mariama (above) Symbols of Hope Scholarship Recipient Portrait by Kathrin Longhurst
In 2019, Symbols of Hope (SOH) expanded into different formats of training through short intensives classes and support sessions. Hosted at Portal in 1 Martin Place and thanks to the generosity of one for the group's first employees (and original Gratia Head Barista, Steven Li). The format of these sessions is to allow the group's model to benefit a wider range of people facing all kinds of different challenges. Classes can be one off introductory lessons or a five part expert masterclass. Groups are usually one to two or even one on one, to allow for a very personal approach and intensive learning opportunity. The class is currently focused mainly on young people who need a little bit more confidence in the work place, for a range of different reasons. It is a less scary and more accessible way to build foundational knowledge. Hospitality is a great industry to help people confront their challenges, especially in a welcoming, friendly and safe environment with an experienced trainer. We receive great feedback from students and organisations alike as it can be very helpful for both self esteem and for future employment and income purposes to have practical skills in the field. For our participants that come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, cost would also be a big traditional barrier, as five sessions of 'one on one' training with a master trainer could normally cost in excess of $600 - $800. An average practice session may see an aspiring barista pour up to 35-40 coffees in a 2-3 hour session, not the kind of experience offered by many Sydney cafes to a first time employee. The program is open to a wide range of attendees/students, in partnership with number of different not for profit organisations.
In 2020, hospitality programs continued through Covid thanks to the generosity of partners Gabriel Coffee, Lendlease and Canva, providing training facilities and more. Pictured (above) is Lisa on her first day of paid employment at Canva.
In 2021, Symbols of Hope expanded its reach to a new site (and new industry) in the Lower Blue Mountains through Pure's new project ALAYA. This includes the construction of Tiny Homes and offered support, mentoring, empowerment, training programs and in some cases accomodation to young people recovering from domestic violence situations and also young people with disabilities. Participants learnt building skills in this growing space and pathways to employment.
Also in 2021, Symbols of Hope partnered with Ben and Jerry's. Creating a new brand in the process, Ben and Jerry's By Pure. Special social enterprise ice cream shops, housing training and employment programs for a wide range of people who have fallen through the gaps in society. Employment opportunities have so far benefited young indigenous men and women, young women in transitional housing and other at-risk youth and a young lady with an intellectual disability.
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