Creating better lives

Getting youth into employment.

Getting youth into employment.

ASET TEAM: From left, Nathan Biddle (youth co-ordinator), Cazna Waaka-Brown (youth co-ordinator), Ngawini Packer (administrator), Leighton Packer (co-ordinator manager). Ernest Packer (co-ordinator manager) and Larry Foster (trustee) are a team, along with Mayor Meng Foon, behind the trust which is getting people into employment. Pictures by Liam Clayton
POPPIES: Henriatta Ngarimu and Alicia Nepe have just taken over the contract for Poppies Cafe and Restaurant at Gisborne RSA. Only six months ago,they were working in a packhouse.

A Gisborne-based trust is getting beneficiaries and youth into work . . . Leighton Heikell speaks to the team and looks into one of their success stories.

We just fight for the little ones from the corner — that is what we do,” says Leighton Packer, co-ordinator manager for Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust (ASET).

The non-for-profit trust, led by Mrs Packer and her husband Ernest with chairman Mayor Meng Foon and trustee Larry Foster, is building businesses, creating jobs and facilitating ways to get people into employment or training.

Since its inception, more than 100 people have been supported into work. Mrs Packer says it is changing lives.

The trust has contracts with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), to get benficiaries into work.
ASET has formed a working relationship with a sawmill, has a market garden supplying Gisborne Pak’nSave, and has helped start up a restaurant at the Gisborne RSA.

A recent batch of funding has meant ASET is working more with youth.

The trust was granted $447,628 for the next two years to work with people aged 15 to 24 who have gang affiliations, drug and alcohol problems and/or other issues.

“We are taking kids who have no qualification, no education, they have dropped out of school . . . they’ve got nothing.

“We are just trying to show them a better life . . . with a lot of love,” she says.

The contract and funding with MSD requires ASET to get 20 youth into work within the first year.
“It has been three weeks and we have secured 23 youth into employment.”

More and more young people keep showing up wanting work, and despite the MSD funding only requiring a certain number,

Mrs Packer says they will keep helping and supporting.

“Next year we will do another intake, and another, and another.

“We have kids coming in and we can’t turn them away — we won’t turn them away.”

'They just need the opportunity'

She says people are wrong to think these kids don’t want to work.

“They just need the opportunity and the push. And that is where ASET comes in.”

A lot of them face their own challenges, some are illiterate and have disabilities.

“But our job is to find their smart, we have to find their talent and make them believe in themselves and boom, they’re away.

“They may be starting at the bottom, but we are here to encourage them. They are seeing the opportunities for themselves and wanting to work their way up.”

She says ASET provide around the clock pastoral care and support for everyone on their books.

“In a way we are work brokers, but the difference is we are there — through all the problems. If anything goes wrong we get call ups at any time of the night.”

Mrs Packer says she first saw a need for something like ASET when she was at a meeting for fighting against poverty.
“I listened to everyone talk and thought ‘yeah, cool’ but what is the reality of getting them the jobs, what is being done to help these people.”

So she and her husband met with Mr Foon and Mr Foster and a few others and brainstormed ideas of how to get these people into work.

“Meng and Larry have been a huge help, they are both great businessmen and have put in the hard yards.”

One of the success stories for ASET is Poppies Cafe and Restaurant at the Gisborne RSA.

Henriatta Ngarimu and Alicia Nepe have just taken over the contract for Poppies.

Six months ago, they were working in a packhouse and now they are running their own restaurant.

ASET originally had the contract and hired the pair to run the kitchen in August to bring back business the RSA had lost when it was put into recess earlier this year.

Mr Foster says the pair have truly turned it around.
“RSA needed catering, so ASET said we would come in and we took the catering contract on.”

It was a few months before Henriatta and Alicia started running the kitchen but when they did: “they started producing really good food and the RSA was really happy with how it was going”, he says.

“ASET had to transform the restaurant and get the RSA’s customer approval, and these girls certainly did that.”

Miss Ngarimu says both her and Alicia have previously worked in the food industry, but were taking a break from it.
“We went out and worked in a packhouse but we realised that the early mornings, late nights and long hours were not for us. And then along came this opportunity.

“They called us in, to come and help out with the restaurant.”

After a three-month trial working under ASET, the girls were offered an opportunity to take over the restaurant as their own.

“The opportunity itself was pretty awesome, to go from employment to now owning the business, and the start up they (ASET) have given us . . . you don’t get many opportunities like that.”

The pair are not only business partners, but really good friends, she says.

“We do have a really good time together, if we went through this with anyone else we might have cried by now, but to look after our friendship we made a few rules.

“We have 24 hours of no talking, no contact whatsoever, because our friendship is so important and we don’t want to get sick of each other,” she says.

“But after spending the rest of the week working with each other, those 24 hours can actually be quite hard, we kind of get separation anxiety.”

Getting along with customers is one of the most important things for the pair, but they have found the customers supporting and getting behind them, Miss Ngarimu says.

“Everyone is cheering for us from the sides, it’s a bit overwhelming at times but its quite humbling because everyone is so supportive.

“But there is still loads to work on, improvements to be made.”
The pair say one of the busiest parts of the business is catering, for functions at or away from the RSA.

“Slowly word of mouth is getting out, and they are hearing about us.
“We’ve been working as a team because we have a goal to get the RSA thriving again, we want the community to want to come here.”

The pair say it has been a ‘pretty hectic’ few months, but they have enjoyed it.
“It is funny because we had spoken about getting back into cooking, and then a week later we got a phone call asking if we could come and help and we kind of giggled about it,” Henriatta says.

“Then we started talking about how cool it would be if we could take over the restaurant independently, and then a week later they offered us the opportunity to take over and we giggled again.

“It has been an awesome experience so far and we are looking forward to what the future holds.”

Mr Foon says it is great to facilitate two young people into business.
“We have got it to a stage where we are confident to hand it to our two hardworking staff.

“They have had good reports from RSA management and customers and we have seen the kitchen business increase.

“It is good to see the confidence of the two young girls, they have worked hard and have been mentored by our ASET team.”

Mrs Packer says “this is the beginning of many, many restaurants for these girls, because they get stuck in and do the hard work and they are always smiling.”

A Gisborne-based trust is getting beneficiaries and youth into work . . . Leighton Heikell speaks to the team and looks into one of their success stories.

We just fight for the little ones from the corner — that is what we do,” says Leighton Packer, co-ordinator manager for Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust (ASET).

The non-for-profit trust, led by Mrs Packer and her husband Ernest with chairman Mayor Meng Foon and trustee Larry Foster, is building businesses, creating jobs and facilitating ways to get people into employment or training.

Since its inception, more than 100 people have been supported into work. Mrs Packer says it is changing lives.

The trust has contracts with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), to get benficiaries into work.
ASET has formed a working relationship with a sawmill, has a market garden supplying Gisborne Pak’nSave, and has helped start up a restaurant at the Gisborne RSA.

A recent batch of funding has meant ASET is working more with youth.

The trust was granted $447,628 for the next two years to work with people aged 15 to 24 who have gang affiliations, drug and alcohol problems and/or other issues.

“We are taking kids who have no qualification, no education, they have dropped out of school . . . they’ve got nothing.

“We are just trying to show them a better life . . . with a lot of love,” she says.

The contract and funding with MSD requires ASET to get 20 youth into work within the first year.
“It has been three weeks and we have secured 23 youth into employment.”

More and more young people keep showing up wanting work, and despite the MSD funding only requiring a certain number,

Mrs Packer says they will keep helping and supporting.

“Next year we will do another intake, and another, and another.

“We have kids coming in and we can’t turn them away — we won’t turn them away.”

'They just need the opportunity'

She says people are wrong to think these kids don’t want to work.

“They just need the opportunity and the push. And that is where ASET comes in.”

A lot of them face their own challenges, some are illiterate and have disabilities.

“But our job is to find their smart, we have to find their talent and make them believe in themselves and boom, they’re away.

“They may be starting at the bottom, but we are here to encourage them. They are seeing the opportunities for themselves and wanting to work their way up.”

She says ASET provide around the clock pastoral care and support for everyone on their books.

“In a way we are work brokers, but the difference is we are there — through all the problems. If anything goes wrong we get call ups at any time of the night.”

Mrs Packer says she first saw a need for something like ASET when she was at a meeting for fighting against poverty.
“I listened to everyone talk and thought ‘yeah, cool’ but what is the reality of getting them the jobs, what is being done to help these people.”

So she and her husband met with Mr Foon and Mr Foster and a few others and brainstormed ideas of how to get these people into work.

“Meng and Larry have been a huge help, they are both great businessmen and have put in the hard yards.”

One of the success stories for ASET is Poppies Cafe and Restaurant at the Gisborne RSA.

Henriatta Ngarimu and Alicia Nepe have just taken over the contract for Poppies.

Six months ago, they were working in a packhouse and now they are running their own restaurant.

ASET originally had the contract and hired the pair to run the kitchen in August to bring back business the RSA had lost when it was put into recess earlier this year.

Mr Foster says the pair have truly turned it around.
“RSA needed catering, so ASET said we would come in and we took the catering contract on.”

It was a few months before Henriatta and Alicia started running the kitchen but when they did: “they started producing really good food and the RSA was really happy with how it was going”, he says.

“ASET had to transform the restaurant and get the RSA’s customer approval, and these girls certainly did that.”

Miss Ngarimu says both her and Alicia have previously worked in the food industry, but were taking a break from it.
“We went out and worked in a packhouse but we realised that the early mornings, late nights and long hours were not for us. And then along came this opportunity.

“They called us in, to come and help out with the restaurant.”

After a three-month trial working under ASET, the girls were offered an opportunity to take over the restaurant as their own.

“The opportunity itself was pretty awesome, to go from employment to now owning the business, and the start up they (ASET) have given us . . . you don’t get many opportunities like that.”

The pair are not only business partners, but really good friends, she says.

“We do have a really good time together, if we went through this with anyone else we might have cried by now, but to look after our friendship we made a few rules.

“We have 24 hours of no talking, no contact whatsoever, because our friendship is so important and we don’t want to get sick of each other,” she says.

“But after spending the rest of the week working with each other, those 24 hours can actually be quite hard, we kind of get separation anxiety.”

Getting along with customers is one of the most important things for the pair, but they have found the customers supporting and getting behind them, Miss Ngarimu says.

“Everyone is cheering for us from the sides, it’s a bit overwhelming at times but its quite humbling because everyone is so supportive.

“But there is still loads to work on, improvements to be made.”
The pair say one of the busiest parts of the business is catering, for functions at or away from the RSA.

“Slowly word of mouth is getting out, and they are hearing about us.
“We’ve been working as a team because we have a goal to get the RSA thriving again, we want the community to want to come here.”

The pair say it has been a ‘pretty hectic’ few months, but they have enjoyed it.
“It is funny because we had spoken about getting back into cooking, and then a week later we got a phone call asking if we could come and help and we kind of giggled about it,” Henriatta says.

“Then we started talking about how cool it would be if we could take over the restaurant independently, and then a week later they offered us the opportunity to take over and we giggled again.

“It has been an awesome experience so far and we are looking forward to what the future holds.”

Mr Foon says it is great to facilitate two young people into business.
“We have got it to a stage where we are confident to hand it to our two hardworking staff.

“They have had good reports from RSA management and customers and we have seen the kitchen business increase.

“It is good to see the confidence of the two young girls, they have worked hard and have been mentored by our ASET team.”

Mrs Packer says “this is the beginning of many, many restaurants for these girls, because they get stuck in and do the hard work and they are always smiling.”

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