Port Kembla Salvos is operating a new cafe that is offering the long-term unemployed a ‘‘hand-up’’ instead of a ‘‘hand-out’’.
The Foundery is the brainchild of Salvation Army officers Paul and Christy Kurth who moved to the Illawarra six years ago to revitalise the organisation in southern Wollongong.
While familiarising themselves with the area, they happened to drive along Wentworth Street in Port Kembla and knew they’d found their base.
‘‘We felt like there was something happening in the street and we started to talk to people and found out about the plans to revitalise it and we wanted to be part of that,’’ Mr Kurth said.
‘‘We wanted to create a social enterprise of the Salvation Army that worked as a commercial cafe but at the same time, trained unemployed people and equipped them with the skills and experience to get them back into the workforce.
'Seeing people who thought that they wouldn’t amount to much, becoming healthy, contributing members to society. That’s my goal with this enterprise, too.'
‘‘We saw that within this area there was generational poverty and so we wanted to create this enterprise to break that cycle by offering people a hand-up, rather than a hand-out.’’
The cafe officially opened in March and was named the Foundery in a nod to the region’s industrial past and to acknowledge Salvation Army ‘‘founders’’ William and Catherine Booth.
The cafe turned training facility links with employment agencies such as Mission Australia to give those willing to learn a go.
‘‘These agencies send us people they’re working with so we can give them some on-the-job experience,’’ Mr Kurth said.
‘‘It gives them a feel for the hospitality industry so they can see if they want to pursue work in this sector – and one of them has gone on to gain a full-time job.
‘‘Plus it just gives them some confidence and some experience, which is what employers are looking for.’’
The cafe – open from Tuesday to Friday from 7am to 3pm and Saturdays from 8am to 3pm – also provides a great space for the Port Kembla community. It’s warm and inviting and boasts great coffee and a simple but satisfying menu.
‘‘We wanted to create a space where anyone and everyone can feel welcome – and we’ve already received a great response from the community,’’ he said.
Mr Kurth also hosts Salvation Army church gatherings at the cafe on the first and third Sundays of the month from 9.30am.
‘‘My parents were Salvation Army officers and I became an officer too because of the joy I get in seeing people succeed in life,’’ Mr Kurth said.
‘‘Especially seeing people who thought that they wouldn’t amount to much, becoming healthy, contributing members to society. That’s my goal with this enterprise, too.’’