Save the Children supporting Youth Jobs Now!
In 2022, Save the Children Op Shops began opening again after successive lockdowns due to the pandemic. A rapidly changing retail and volunteer landscape due to lockdowns, vaccination requirements and rises in costs of living has had a significant impact on volunteer-led retail teams.
This in turn has presented a huge opportunity for Save the Children’s retail team to work on innovative new paths for volunteering with us.
“Diversifying our opportunities for volunteering post-pandemic has been a key focus in 2022,” says Carly Lahana, the National Volunteer Manager for retail. “We know that volunteering is fundamental to Australian society and over half the population gave their time last year, formally or informally, but many people face challenges in participating due to social failures in creating accessible opportunities.
Changing this reality is important for us as an organisation as we commit to changing the ways we work to better include all kinds of Australians.”
As part of our diversification plan, Save the Children launched an innovative partnership with Youth Jobs Now (YJN!) in Victoria, a School Leaver Disability Employment Service. Part of The Bridge Employment, YJN! is an inclusive, holistic and highly interactive service aimed at young adults aged 18-24 who require support to find and keep a job.
Giving young people hands-on retail experience
In the pilot for this program, a group of six young adults joined team member Michelle Perry at the Save the Children Op Shop in Dandenong for an eight-week program. The team worked every week in the shop and the warehouse to sort donations, merchandise product, manage the book library, work behind the counter, and assist customers.
“I really enjoyed interacting with the young people in the Youth Jobs Now! program,” says Michelle, “no two weeks were the same and they always came with a positive attitude and a willingness to help.”