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Coming to the rescue

Getting her driver licence through YOUth Inspire has been life-changing for Jennifer Taofia

YOUth Inspire has come to the rescue of Jennifer Taofia, 21, by providing her with a car to take driving lessons in. Gaining her driver licence means she doesn’t have to walk in the dark from the bus-stop to her night-shift work as a caregiver.

Jennifer says having a licence and a car has made a “huge difference” to her safety and her work day, and has “transformed” her family.

Having a licence and a car is something often taken for granted.

But for many young job-hunters a licence is required for work or to get there safely.

Jennifer faced the added challenge of belonging to a family that did not have a vehicle.

There was no car to learn in and no one to teach her to drive.

That’s where YOUth Inspire came to the rescue – a not-for-profit trust based in the Lower Hutt suburb of Wainuiomata whose financial supporters include the Ministry of Social Development, Hutt City Council and the Todd Foundation.

YOUth Inspire provided their vehicle for Jennifer to take lessons in. She had already passed the written theory test when she was at Hutt Valley High School.

When Jennifer met the YOUth Inspire team, she had spent two years studying towards a Bachelor in Applied Management at WelTec. She needed to start working and was able to graduate with two diplomas.

Jennifer talked with YOUth Inspire manager Ali Black about the types of work she could apply for and updated her CV.

After she started working she was able to pay for extra driving lessons and passed her restricted licence test.

YOUth Inspire manager Ali Black, left, with Jennifer Taofia

She arranged finance and bought a car, which meant she no longer had to catch two buses from her home in Wainuiomata to work in Lower Hutt, a job that includes some 10-hour night shifts.

She took a defensive driving course and got her full licence in June.

Jennifer is still the only person in her family with a car so she also doubles as the family taxi service when she can.

Helping the whole family

YOUth Inspire helped her brothers Sonny and Patrick into full-time work through short courses that included CV writing, job search, employment skills, presentation and interview skills. Sonny appears in a success video on the YOUth Inspire website.

Ali says the brothers stepped into work via her organisation’s direct business contacts rather than going through the normal applicant process.

Ali had just joined YOUth Inspire when she met Sonny and Patrick.

Jennifer’s youngest brother, Dominic, also achieved his learner licence through YOUth Inspire and found a job. He is currently studying.

“I am immensely proud of Jennifer, Patrick, Sonny and Dominic.

With the care and support of YOUth Inspire, they have changed their lives and they are realising their true potential,” Ali says.

Their contribution to the household income has also made a huge difference for the family, she adds.

When Hutt City Council engaged professionals to attempt to measure the social return on every dollar spent on YOUth Inspire, they thought they might save $3 or $4 per dollar spent through less antisocial behaviour, less vandalism to public places, more youth gaining their driver licence and fewer people needing to live on state benefits.

The results are showing a return of $11.60 per dollar spent.

Jennifer encourages others to check out YOUth Inspire and its programmes.

Driving Licence programme

The driver licence programme is something the organisation is particularly proud of.

Ali says 70 per cent of jobs require a person to have a driver licence.

New Zealand’s Mayors Taskforce had surveyed the cost of getting lessons and a restricted licence around the country and found the cheapest option was $6000 in Nelson.

Obtaining grants totalling $25,000 enabled YOUth Inspire to train volunteers to be driver mentors and to hire a professional driving instructor who initially assessed each young person.

The volunteers did the driving instruction.

Twenty-five youth began the programme, including some who had been caught driving without a licence.

But it was difficult to get some to commit to lessons, Ali says.

Eventually 10, including Jennifer, passed their restricted licence, which means they can drive on their own between 5am and 10pm.

Future hopes are to start a YOUth Inspire driving school, Ali says.

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