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Changing lives with support to find work

15 April 2024

Having a job can change people’s lives. That’s why The People’s Project is grateful for our successful and effective collaboration with our sister organisation, Workwise.

Employment consultants from Workwise have been integrated into The People’s Project (TPP) teams since 2021. Based in TPP offices in Hamilton and Tauranga, the employment consultants support people into jobs through the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) approach. This approach gives job seekers intensive, individualised support to help them find a job of their choosing and offers continued support for employers and employees.

TPP General Manager Kerry Hawkes says assisting people into work is part of the ultimate goal of Housing First – of supporting people to reintegrate into communities. “As a Housing First service, we support long-term homeless people into homes. Once someone is housed, it’s easier to work with them to deal with any challenges they face, such as with their physical or mental health, or problematic substance use. We assist people to access health care, counselling, budgeting advice, and we can offer employment support through Workwise. This is fantastic as having a job can absolutely help someone to improve their wellbeing, to sustain their tenancy, and to set and achieve their goals.”

Many people who have experienced homelessness want to work but still face barriers. For example, dealing with health issues or judgement from potential employers. One Canadian study investigated the barriers to employment faced by newly housed, formerly homeless people who had mental illness. The participants spoke of concern about sharing sensitive information and explaining gaps from work, fluctuating motivation, continued substance use, and fear, pain, and anxiety about reexperiencing homelessness-related trauma. (Poremski et. Al, 2015). But participants who’d had Individual Placement and Support (IPS) described co-developing strategies with their employment specialist to deal with the barriers, such as conducting mock interviews to prepare for difficult questions.

Kerry says this demonstrates just how valuable it is to take the time to get to know the people TPP supports, to develop relationships based on trust. “Many people we work alongside have had persistently poor and disjointed support from social sector services, and that may mean they are sceptical about us. But we never give up; we wear people down with kindness and consistent offers of support. It might take years to earn their trust. But, once a person gains confidence in one case manager at TPP, they will slowly gain confidence in the whole organisation. That’s why it’s so fantastic our clients can continue to be supported within The Wise Group, by Workwise employment consultants in TPP offices. As we’re both part of the same organisation, we’re confident they’re looked after with the care and respect that’s central to our values.”

This integrated support approach is the reason the TPP/Workwise collaboration is successful: support to access and sustain permanent housing, support to improve the person’s wellbeing, and support to access and sustain employment. Between January and December 2023, The People’s Project and Workwise collaboration highlights included:

  • Working with 132 people on their employment journey, to prepare for and find a job
  • People secured 62 placements, either a job, training, or other placements, such as work experience, trial, or voluntary work
  • 51% of jobs secured were full-time

Visit the Workwise website to read more about their collaboration with The People’s Project:

You can also read about Joe’s journey: Joe’s story of change – Workwise. He’s a former TPP client who’s found work with support from Workwise.


Poremski, D., Woodhall-Melnik, J., Lemieux, A.J. & Stergiopoulos, V. (2015). Persisting Barriers to Employment for Recently Housed Adults with Mental Illness Who Were Homeless. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, Vol. 93, No. 1 doi:10.1007/s11524-015-0012-y