Springboard to success for troubled youth

21:06, Sep 26 2011
Springboard
CELEBRATING SUCCESS: Springboard graduates and helpers at the Vault programme's completion ceremony on Friday.

Young people heading for trouble are given a new lease of life through Springboard Community Works.

Eight graduated from the Snells Beach-based organisation's work programme last week.

Most had just spent six months learning skills, work ethics and confidence through a one-off Vault programme where they were employed for 30 hours a week.

Six of them had been in trouble with the law, director Gary Diprose says. Three now have fulltime jobs and three others have strong job leads.

"It's taking kids in trouble or who are not going anywhere and giving them an opportunity," Mr Diprose says. The 18 to 22-year-olds received government and community funding while cutting 250 cubic metres of firewood for sale and building raised garden beds, a pergola, fences and a courtyard at the Snells Beach facility.

"They learned work ethics like doing an eight-hour day's hard work," Mr Diprose says.

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The programme has some high power backers. Mr Diprose asked Minister for Social Development, Employment and Youth Affairs Paula Bennett for help. She put them on to the right people for funding.

Warkworth police have long been involved with Springboard and Warkworth sergeant Bede Haughey attended Friday's graduation ceremony.

Rodney National candidate Mark Mitchell has been supporting Springboard since he heard about it. And his talk at the graduation held a powerful message for those involved: He had offered his help because "I could see myself in you guys".

Mr Mitchell says he left school without qualifications at 15 and started to go off course. A Taupo farmer, also at the ceremony, took Mr Mitchell under his wing and gave him a job.

"He took an interest in me and made me believe in myself," he says.

Mr Mitchell says he doesn't know where he would have ended up otherwise. He went on to serve in the police for 14 years, then built up a business which, by the time he sold it, was in 120 countries and had 35,000 employees. Mr Mitchell told graduates not to become isolated or give up but realise others wanted them to be successful and cared for them.

Now the Vault programme is finished, Springboard is turning to other ways to fund its programmes. A supporters club is being formed, encouraging people and workplaces to contribute $10 a month.

The 1000@10 Supporter Club aims to get 1000 people on board. "That way we can gain a base of $120,000 a year to fund programmes that others don't," Springboard business development manager Greg Weller says. "We want people to come on the journey with us."

People contributing just $2.30 a week will help Springboard build a sustainable future in north Rodney, he says.

If you can help, contact Springboard Community Works on (09) 425-4623, email mail@springboard.org.nz or visit www.springboard.org.nz.

Rodney Times