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Byron Shire
April 13, 2021

Unsung hero thrown out of work

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There are many people in our community who quietly, with no fanfare, work hard trying to make other peoples lives a little better.

One of those people is Karen Ford, a youth worker at Byron Youth Service (BYS).

Karen took over as facilitator of the Links to Learning program at the beginning of this year.

She was thrown in the deep end, with no handover, as the previous two workers had already left to take up jobs in Fiji and Alice Springs.

Karen had to run the program with a big reduction in resources, funding and support workers.

She has done an amazing job and put a number of young people through training programs including hospitality, event management and a building course for boys.

Links to Learning has been running out of BYS for as long as I’ve been there, which is nearly 16 years.

It’s a great program and has been instrumental in keeping many young people engaged in training and education.

Its vocational education courses also incorporate life skills, information relevant to current issues for young people, referral, support and casework, a range of wellness experiences and yummy lunches.

We have recently found out that the Links to Learning program has not been refunded, which while it has a huge impact on our local young people, also effectively means Karen has lost her job.

Karen is a dedicated, committed youth worker and she has the gift for it.

Links to Learning is a very effective program that assists many of our local young people in training and education and finding employment.

I commend Karen for the excellent job she’s done and I personally feel powerless, sad and increasingly dismayed at the ongoing losses to our organisations this year, which impact our ability to continue providing youth services.

Deborah Pearse, Youth Connections co-ordinator, BYS

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