To assist at-risk youth in Toowoomba, new social enterprise initiative Emerge Cafe is providing a training program for people aged 14 through 25. A combination of a catering company and youth space, Emerge helps those grappling with issues such as homelessness, poverty, drug abuse and family violence or breakdown.

Emerge benefits local young people through mentorship and training that focuses on health, job training, and essential life skills. Founder Jen Shaw sources her own experiences with disadvantage, homelessness and family violence to create a support system for young people similarly impacted. 

“Using my experience in their shoes, their voices, and the support and love of holistic mentors and professionals in our region create waves of change for the future of our community” said Shaw.

In September, Emerge will be engaging with at-risk young women in Toowoomba, through the Emerge Program for Young Women. Emerge’s newest program will be focused on providing women, aged 13 through 17, with a better understanding of staying healthy and safe, despite what can be challenging circumstances.

The program aims to empower these young women by teaching them about self-care, health and nutrition, positive mindset and safety on the streets, as well as practical life skills such as budgeting, meal planning and setting goals for the future.Shaw wishes to use her experience challenging circumstances to prove that with the assistance of mentorship, belief, and opportunities, barriers can be turned into opportunities.

See socials from Toowoomba’s community sleepout here.