Our Trainee Stories

We’re really proud of the young people who come and spend time with us and we’d like to share some of their stories here.

Huge thanks to our trainees for allowing us to share their stories and we hope this inspires more young people to take up the opportunities the Cafe Training Programme offers. 

If you'd like to stay up-to-date with the latest Odyssey Cafe news, you can sign-up to our monthly newsletter on our Facebook page.

You can also listen to an interview with two of our graduates and our Cafe training programme manager on RNZ (11 January 2018)



Jake (March 2017)

Jake achieved NCEA Level 1, but started getting into trouble at school and dropped out before completing Year 12. He started a building apprenticeship and began working for a builder who was also manufacturing drugs. Jake became involved in selling drugs on the side and by the time he was in his fourth year of building (at this stage in his ninth different job in the industry), Jake was homeless, either sleeping in his car, with mates or in motels. Eventually arrested and facing prison time, Jake made the decision to enter Odyssey’s adult residential rehabilitation programme.

Two months into his Odyssey treatment, Jake was offered the opportunity to join the Odyssey Café Training Programme – an opportunity he accepted, “mainly for a change of scene”. He found the experience different to what he had been expecting: “I enjoyed working in the café more than I thought I would and I started thinking about how I could use the skills I was developing in the future”. Jake found the training programme helped him to get back into a work routine, the first time he had done so without relying on substances to get through. “I’ve enjoyed the whole programme, but especially the coffee making and baking, which are two things I never thought I’d be able to do!” Jake’s Mum told us, “Training in the café has brought Jake out of his comfort zone and he’s grown in confidence so much. He’s engaging with people and looking them in the eye – he’s confident in himself now and he never had that before.”

Once he graduates from the Odyssey residential programme, Jake aims to find work in the construction industry again which will allow him to save money to travel in the US, where he hopes to use his coffee making and customer service skills to find café work. Eventually Jake sees himself completing his building certification back in NZ.


Jordan (February 2017)

Jordan says he “felt stuck before starting with Odyssey”. Although he had previously done well at school and completed his NCEA Level 2 credits half-way through Year 13, trouble with friends had led Jordan to feel lonely and anxious and he decided he no longer wanted to continue attending school. He applied for a variety of customer service roles, but having no work experience on his CV meant that he very rarely heard back about the applications. Feeling disheartened, Jordan says he was “wasting his days away” hanging out at home, with no structure to his day.

With his Mum’s encouragement he sought the support of West Auckland Enterprise Skills & Training (WEST) who then referred Jordan onto the Odyssey Café team. Since starting the Odyssey Café Training Programme, Jordan has grown in confidence and his communication skills have improved significantly. Having work experience and practical qualifications to put on his CV means that Jordan feels confident in his chances of finding work, as he has “more to offer employers”. Jordan is excited about the future and working his way towards his long-term goal of owning his own business.