Last Easter the pandemic had descended upon us. Back then I was worried about our homeless guests, but with your support we kept them safe. However, now I’m concerned about the increasing numbers of young people who’ve found themselves unemployed and facing a grim future.

Young people’s employment prospects have been hit hard by the economic impact of COVID-19. In fact, youth unemployment is twice the national average. 

These young Australians face an uncertain future. One that could see them relying on my Foundation for meals and support as they grow older. 

Fresh starts in the new Crews Café

That’s why my Foundation has introduced special initiatives to help, in particular our new Transition 2 Work program. The program is a partnership with TAFE NSW and is unique in that it offers an accredited hospitality training course, a certification and on-the-job experience at our purpose-built Crews Café in Ashfield.

18-year old Jayden was one of our successful trainees. His thirst for knowledge impressed me greatly. One day in the Crews Café he said to me: “I came into this course with nothing, but I feel like I’ll leave with everything”. As we talked he spoke kindly about the regular customers who came in. In fact he knew them all by name.

When Jayden graduated from the program he got a TAFE Certificate I in Hospitality and the skills he needed to gain employment, not-to-mention a new career.

The Transition 2 Work program in our Crews Café is breaking the poverty cycle. It’s giving young people a hand up rather than a hand out, but that’s not all we’re doing.

Guiding teens to a better future

We are also mentoring teenagers, many of whom come from families impacted by the COVID-19 economic crisis. Sadly, their home lives have become even more difficult as their parents income dwindled when JobKeeper and JobSeeker were wound back.

These teens tend to have a somewhat bleak outlook on life. However our youth mentoring program is making a huge difference. Indeed, we’ve discovered that as little as 15-minutes of professional mentoring per week is enough to change their direction in life. I’m certain it’s going to make their future better.

Teaching kids to read is breaking the poverty cycle

Of course literacy is also key to breaking the poverty cycle. That’s why my Foundation has run children’s reading programs for almost two decades.

All the kids in our literacy program have poor reading skills, and many come from families in desperate need. We help the children achieve the same educational and social outcomes as their peers. In fact most students have an improvement of 10 months in their reading age after just one semester. 

Thanks to your support, over 4,000 children have completed our literacy program. It’s an achievement we can all be proud of.

Life is tough for many young people. I know how hard it can be for them to summon the strength to improve their lives. That’s why my Foundation is here with understanding and loving compassion. Together we can make their futures better.

I often find that when young people are given a hand up it’s like all of heaven sings. What could be better than changing someone’s life, giving them a future they never dreamed imaginable!

I would love for you to share this journey with me. To help young people break free of poverty and give them a new life. After all, renewal and hope is what Easter is all about. 

So this Easter I urge you to share your compassion and be part of something special. Please give so me and my team can lift up young Australians and ensure they have a brighter future. 

God Bless
Rev. Bill Crews

About the Author: Bill Crews

Rev. Bill Crews AM is a much-loved Australian who's given over 3 million meals to the hungry and taught thousands of underprivileged kids to read. He's been recognised by The Rotary Foundation and Ernst & Young. He is on the National Trust’s list of 100 “National Living Treasures”.