Published On: 20 October 2023Categories: Stories

Working for Loaves and Fishes Tasmania has special significance for kitchen trainee Jordan Urquhart, who used to receive emergency food relief as a teen when he was homeless.

“I love that we make meals for the homeless and people who are struggling because not that long ago, that was me,” he said.

Jordan, 21, who is almost halfway through his Certificate I in Hospitality, also spent a stint in Ashley Detention Centre during his turbulent teen years when he was estranged from his mother. They have since reconciled.

“I moved out of Hobart to get away from the bad influences and started looking for a job,” he said.

“I mentioned to the job provider that I liked cooking, and next day I had an interview with Loaves and Fishes.

“I love working here. It’s a great atmosphere.”

It’s a long working day for the aspiring chef who leaves home in Sheffield at 7:20am to catch a bus to Devonport before walking more than 1km from the bus stop to the kitchen, arriving at 8:30am. He rarely finishes before 4:30pm, walking into the city to catch a 5:30pm bus back to Sheffield.

The cook and the plasterer

Jordan has been matched with a workplace mentor in what Loaves and Fishes considers a vital part of the traineeship.

David Jopson, 61, who has his own plastering business, has been meeting with Jordan once a week for up to a couple of hours for almost a year to encourage and guide the young trainee as he negotiates his first job.

They go fly fishing, share a meal, play pool and chat about life and work.

David has previously worked for six years as a support worker for drug and alcohol clients of City Mission, and enjoys giving back to those who are struggling.

Serving those who are hurting is a family affair, with David’s wife Leanne working as a school chaplain for many years before taking on a role as engagement officer at the West Ulverstone Child and Family Centre.

David said it was a privilege to walk alongside young people starting out in work, and encouraged other business people to become mentors.

“It’s incredibly rewarding and much needed,” David said.

“You realise that the little things you say get through over time.

“It takes a long time to build up trust, but once you have it, you start to see positive changes.

“I admire Jordan’s work ethic in travelling from Sheffield every day for work. It shows a great deal of resilience and commitment.”

For his part, Jordan said he enjoyed meeting with David.

“We get on well,” he said.

“He listens and encourages me, and is helping me get my driver’s licence.”

Jordan is hoping to gain an apprenticeship on completion of his traineeship, and eventually wants to be a chef.

To find out how you can become a workplace mentor, contact Devonport Chaplaincy on 6417 3175.

By Paul O’Rourke

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