Kristine finds an unexpected talent down a new path
- Kristine approached Castle for DES support in May 2021, with a goal to re-enter the workforce after an extended period, to support her financial independence and mental wellbeing.
Despite initially showing an interest in working with 'things' rather than people, Kristine secured a front-of-house role at KFC Toronto, and 12 months later is a team leader and mentor to her younger colleagues.
When Kristine, 44, first met Castle Toronto Case Officer Teelah in May 2021, she wasn't sure anybody would want to hire someone like her.
She had been out of the workforce for an extended period, had limited experience and qualifications, and lived with schizoaffective disorder, depression and anxiety.
Without a driver's license, Kristine was also restricted by public transport for access to employment prospects.
Making things worse, much of New South Wales was under some kind of COVID restrictions at this time, the pressure and anxiety further impacting Kristine's mental health.
Kristine was very open with the team about her challenges, as well as her goals. She not only wanted greater financial freedom and support to her two teenage children, but also to better manage her mental wellbeing, by keeping her mind occupied with employment.
Kristine's initial preference was to look for work in cleaning or factory work, working with 'things' rather than customers. Her disability makes interpersonal work challenging and she felt better suited to repetitive, checklist and process-oriented work.
After initially supporting Kristine to get job-ready by purchasing suitable clothes to attend job interviews, building her resume, obtaining a Working With Children Check and organising driving lessons, Castle began reverse marketing her to potential roles.
Following a couple of unsuccessful attempts at finding suitable work, Kristine expressed openness to exploring different types of roles including hospitality.
It was at this point in January 2022 that Kristine interviewed for and secured a front-of-house role at KFC Toronto.
Castle Employment Support Officer (ESO) Jodie worked closely with Kristine and her managers to ensure she settled in, assisted with access to induction training modules, paperwork and supported her on-site during shifts.
To the delight of her supervisors and Castle staff, Kristine showed a real knack for customer service, always interacting in a friendly, engaging manner with a smile on her face.
She also showed a real passion for learning, always asking questions, checking understanding, and taking notice of how others were doing their jobs.
Being older than a typical fast-food worker, along with Kristine's barriers and personal circumstances, presented challenges along the way, so feeling supported at every step was key ensured sustainable employment.
The post placement support from ESO Jodie varied from assisting with transport to and from work, being a shoulder to cry on, someone to vent to, liaising with Kristine's manager, checking in regularly to see how she was progressing and celebrating with her when she achieved KFC's Employee of the Month Award (pictured).
In late 2022, Kristine was promoted to Team Leader and was proud to reflect that she enjoyed being a mentor to the younger colleagues she worked with.
Kristine's story is one of hard work, honesty, persistence and of overcoming challenges, and her success is celebrated by that caring and understanding staff that have been an integral part of that journey.