Help young adults like Zoe get back on track

September 11, 2019 / by United Way

“I played every sport when I was growing up. As I got older, I decided to focus on basketball. It was very exciting and allowed me to learn life skills. I was a social butterfly.”

Zoe’s father died when she was seven. Her mother was both a mother and father figure. But Zoe figures she raised her self since her mom was working so hard to support her family. When Zoe was 18, her mom went to live in a different country.

Zoe got mixed up with the wrong friends, which led to her getting into trouble. She was incarcerated for a year and a half.

When she got out, it was very hard. She struggled to find full-time work.

“How can I prove to myself and show society that I have something to contribute? How can I show that I’m not a bad person?”

Social isolation has serious physical, mental, and emotional consequences. People who are socially isolated are at a higher risk of developing health problems, slipping into poverty, facing mental health challenges, and having their quality of life reduced. This has dire consequences for the individuals, and for society.

Zoe got connected with a United Way funded program that helped her get back on her feet. She started working at a coffee shop and has never looked back.

Now she works full-time and helps others coming out of incarceration to find employment in the community.

“Getting this job made me so happy. I felt empowered—it felt amazing that someone actually gave me a chance. I already had a good, supportive environment from my family and friends. Now I have a good job too. I can actually survive. I can regain my independence and make something of myself,” says Zoe.

Despite its key contribution to people’s health, sense of worth, and social relationships, many individuals who are able and wanting to work face barriers to employment. Victoria is a city with a high cost of living and without the skills and support to find a stable job, people can fall into a never-ending cycle of poverty, prohibiting them from fully participating in the economy and building a fulfilling life.

You can help tackle #UNIGNORABLE issues like youth unemployment.