NGO helps the poor and homeless find real jobs

October 18, 2017

NGO seeks to help the poor with job seeking 2
Participants of the “Give work!” project. Photo:árton Magócsi

The From Streets to Home Association’s “Give work!” program connects employees who live in poverty and are often homeless with employers willing to hire underprivileged people, reports

Participants of the “Give work!” project all live in poverty and most of them are homeless. Although they are all willing to work, many of them had experienced the vulnerability of working unofficially. One member was fired from a job as a doorman because she had high blood pressure and her bosses were afraid she would not be able to open the door. Another member was terminated without notice after a few days of trial work. Yet another member was terminated for going on sick-leave during his trial period.

The association uploads the resumes, photos, and interests of job seekers on a dedicated website where employers can look for potential employees. Whenever a job opportunity arises, Attila Mester, leader of the “Give work!” project, discusses it with the participants at their weekly Tuesday afternoon group meeting. Mester often knows in advance who he will recommend for the job based on the competencies and current situation of group members.

One such person, Gizi, said Mester suggested she take a  cleaning job in a factory: “I already had many unsuccessful attempts and I don’t feel very good. I can’t do heavy physical work because of my bad joints.” Gizi feels that as a middle-aged person she often does not even have a chance to qualify for a job.

NGO seeks to help the poor with job seeking 1
Attila Mester. Photo:árton Magócsi

According to Mester, however, employers are becoming more and more open to employing people who come from poverty, not least because of the serious labor shortage. Mester cited a recent case when an engineer who works at a Budapest-based multinational company contacted the association because he was willing to hire people for trained work. One of the project participants applied but was immediately rejected by the company’s HR team. However, the engineer did not give up and arranged a meeting between the HR team and leaders of the association. As a result, eight members of the group went to a factory tour and one them might start to work at the company.

“This company was open because it is not always worth hiring a young employee anymore,” Mester said. “By the time they are trained, many of them leave for a higher salary. However, if they give a chance and show appreciation to someone who has not experienced such things for a long time, the chances of this individual quitting are much lower.” He said the best solution would be if companies employed social workers who could pay attention to the problems of underprivileged employees.

The “Give work!” program can be considered a substitute for the often unhelpful national employment centers with which many participants have had bad experiences. “In the employment centers one feels like a dependent,”  member Iván told “Here, in turn, they are really interested in what I am good at and what I would like to do.”

According to another member, Adrienn, the best aspect of the group is not the actual technical help that they receive for job searches, but the fact that she can relax during the group conversations and leave behind many of the frustrations that hindered her job seeking in the past.

Mester said: “We have to dissolve fixed routines in both parties. Most of our clients have always worked under the table, and the fact that they can go on a sick-leave is completely science-fiction to them. Instead, they are used to going somewhere in the morning and then they either receive their promised two thousand forints or not. […] To many of them, it is unusual that they receive their salary at the end of the month as previously they tried to put together the money every day.” He added that in many cases employers cannot imagine the conditions their employees live in.

The long-term aim of the leaders of “Give work!” is to transform the project into some kind of social enterprise. For the time being, they would like to become acquainted with as many employers as possible and broaden the circle of clients.