Local community housing provider Link Wentworth has awarded $100,000 in scholarship funds to its residents this year, helping them to pursue personal and professional aspirations that were previously unachievable due to financial limitations.
The scholarships provide many opportunities, including funding to assist Link Wentworth tenants who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic to pay for vocational training courses. The initiative is allowing recipients to enhance their employability by retraining or updating existing skills.
This year marked the first time since the 2021 Link Wentworth merger that the scholarship program was available to residents of formerly named Wentworth Community Housing, signaling the continued growth of opportunities for more residents.
Link Wentworth Acting CEO, Margaret Maljkovic, said she was pleased to see the program’s funding increase since its launch.
“We now have a community of recipients who we have a close relationship with and can follow their progress and development towards their goals.
“We’re seeing positive changes not only for recipients but for their families as well, thanks to receiving this financial help. It’s the break that many of them need to restore hope, faith and optimism about their futures.”
One of this year’s recipients is Allison, who lives in Kingswood, Penrith. Allison, 35, is using the funding to pursue her dream of playing piano and becoming a professional musician. Alison’s job and income was significantly affected by COVID-19, making it almost impossible for her to pay for lessons, gradings and music materials.
“Being on a low income, it certainly makes it quite difficult to pursue my passions and my dreams,” she said. This was especially difficult for Allison, as the piano has been her refuge and outlet for dealing with mental health.
“I’m a transgender woman [and] I have experienced a lot of adversity and trauma in my life,” she said.
“Music is just one of those things that allows me to be able to shut off from the outside world.”
Allison, who is also a singer and performer, described playing piano as her happy place.
“It’s just very calming and soothing to my soul. Learning a piece of music, playing it, achieving that—it’s such a great sense of joy and fulfillment.”
More recipients have leveraged their scholarships to pursue developmental opportunities previously out of reach, with 28 per cent of recipients using the funds for tertiary education, 17 per cent to help support school-related purchases and 15 per cent for professional development and education courses and certifications. Around 12 per cent of recipients have dedicated their scholarships to personal development, with the majority investing in therapy and mental health management.
Link Wentworth is proud to have awarded more scholarships in 2022 than in any other year, allowing their residents in places such as Penrith, Hornsby, Ryde, the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains to take up opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have the funding for.
“I’m very grateful to Link Wentworth for the scholarship and the ability to pursue my dreams,” Allison said.
“Playing piano really assists me in terms of my mental health so I can only begin to imagine in 12 months’ time the difference in my playing and how I’m feeling. I’m just very excited and grateful to Link Wentworth for this opportunity.” Since being established in 2011 under Link Housing, a total of half a million dollars has been awarded through the Scholarship Program.
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- The Weekly Times (page 9)