There's an angel at work in one of Nelson's lower-income neighbourhoods, and she comes bearing encouragement, ID cards and jobs.
Orchard St man Roger Chisnall, 41, and his wife and three children nearly joined the exodus of Kiwis to Australia, but thanks to Kay Guyton, they're staying put.
Mr Chisnall featured in the Nelson Mail in March, in a report on the 52,087 Kiwis who moved to Australia in the year to February.
He was unemployed and planning to head to Queensland to find work and a new home for his family, after a fruitless job hunt.
As the rejections piled up, Mr Chisnall said he became more and more dispirited. Ms Guyton, of Richmond, came to his aid and he now has a job on a fishing trawler with Sealord.
Ms Guyton said: “I was rapt, because we had been trying for four months. That's what he wanted to do. That was his dream.”
Mr Chisnall's wife, Delicia Palmer-Chisnall, 34, said: “He's a lot happier. He was getting more and more depressed. I thank Kay a lot for us still being in New Zealand. He had his heart set on Aussie, but I don't like it over there." Mrs Palmer-Chisnall said they had given themselves until September, "and if one of us hadn't got a job, we'd move".
“He was really actively looking. There was nothing. He got down.
"Kay just said to him, ‘Don't worry about it.' She got him to job interviews.”
Mr Chisnall said Ms Guyton, who he met over the back fence at House 44, was a saviour.
"She was more persistent with me than other people.
"She got me a photo ID so I could go to Advanced Personnel, ran me around, took me to my physical, drove me down to my job.
"If you need to go anywhere, you can just ring her up.”
Mr Chisnall started on $38,000, and expects to go up the pay scale as he gets extra training. He has already been moved from a casual contract to a fulltime casual contract.
"For us, it's like winning the lottery, going from $19,000 [on the unemployment benefit] to $38,000," he said.
Mrs Palmer-Chisnall said: “It's a big change, because we have been on the benefit for the last four or five years. The hardest thing is getting used to the money. I went shopping and the kids came home and you would swear all their Christmases came at once.”
Ms Guyton has been helping people in the neighbourhood, as a volunteer advocate, since her brother moved to Orchard St about 15 years ago. She gets people photo IDs and pays for birth certificates so they can go for jobs, drives them around, and buys them uniforms from op-shops.
“I have got a passion for this area. It's because they're so appreciative of everything you do. He [Mr Chisnall] told me he wanted to do fishing, so I went from there," she said.
“I think there are quite a few jobs out there, but it's just getting people to get the confidence to go for them. Once you get them the job, they're off. They're as good as gold. There are not enough organisations or people that actually support them to do that. I like trying to talk them [employers] into taking people on. I love the satisfaction of getting people jobs and changing their lives."
Mr Chisnall said if he was prime minister for the day he would make sure there were "more agencies out there to help people - more people like Kay. If it wasn't for Kay pushing me, I would have just given up."
The irony of the situation is that Ms Guyton is unemployed and on a benefit herself. She used to work at House 44, but her contract ended there in February.
Ms Guyton said she wanted to get a job, but she found it hard to walk her own talk due to a lack of confidence and time.
“I'm sure I will [find a job], but to do that I have got to stop helping people all the time, but I can't help it. I do want some sort of work. I have learnt so many skills, but I don't really know what I would be good at,” she said. Ms Guyton carries her “bible" - a diary of appointment dates and information on difference services and programmes - around with her.
“I help when people need help. Most days I'm doing something. I get calls all the time. My main passion is getting people work.
"A lot of the young ones around here would be good workers. You have got to give them a chance. I know what it's like to have nothing,” she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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