Published On: 6 October 2020Categories: Stories

Disengaged youth are finding confidence, work and a renewed sense of purpose through a unique relationship between the SPACE Learning school, Loaves and Fishes, and Devonport Chaplaincy.

Students from five North-West high schools are referred to SPACE Learning at Devonport where they are taught in small groups and with one-on-one teacher support. SPACE stands for Staged, Predictable, Adaptable, Connected and Enabled.

Devonport Chaplaincy provides individual mentors who assist students in class and beyond, and an on-site chaplain supports the students one day a week.

“The chaplaincy group has been with us from day one of the school, working with teachers and support workers to set up classrooms and workshops for the kids,” said Wade Symmons, program leader at the Devonport campus.

Students get paid work

“Three of our students did work experience at the Loaves and Fishes kitchen which led to school-based traineeships. A fourth is doing work experience at the Devonport warehouse which we hope will also lead to a traineeship.

“Loaves and Fishes also delivers food daily which the kids use in our kitchen to cook meals to take home.

“We have seen some positive impact as a result of the influence of the chaplaincy group.

Mentors restoring hope, confidence

“There are mentors at the school every day of the week. They offer a positive adult role model who is able to help kids with woodwork, cooking, art, numeracy and literacy, as well as life skills.

“A couple of the mentors meet kids out of school for activities such as bushwalking, going into town, visiting the library to learn how to borrow books, and to generally widen the kids’ worldview.”

Wade said his students and their families were hit hard by added COVID-19 pressures such as isolation and unemployment.

He said mentors played a vital role in mitigating some of the damage from COVID among the city’s most vulnerable youth.

SPACE has 40 students from Years 7 to Year 10.

“Our goal is to develop students’ capacity to re-engage them into mainstream school or to get them to college. Our main priority is for students to complete their schooling to Year 12.”


Pictured with Wade Symmons are students Shar James and Jay Harding.

By Paul O’Rourke

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