Pat Hall: Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections

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Pat Hall: Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections

Entrepreneurial Pat launches a chain of businesses to break cycle of unemployment

Pat Hall might have been a famous entrepreneur with a chain of shops bearing her name.

Instead, she invests all her significant entrepreneurial and networking talent into her quest to end a multigenerational cycle of unemployment among some families in Warwick Farm in southwestern Sydney.

Pat is the CEO of Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections, a charity that provides education and mentoring to 22,000 disadvantaged women and families a year.

As if facilitating 65 social and vocational groups a week and a TAFE hospitality program is not enough, Pat’s new passion is to provide women with paid employment and work experience.

To do this she and her team launched several small businesses: a canteen concession at a school, a coffee kiosk at a library, a second-hand clothing business, a lawnmower cleaning service and a mobile coffee business.

The businesses are turning over $128,000 a year and providing 3,800 hours of paid work, says Pat, who is grateful to the Sydney Community Foundation, which introduced her to philanthropists who provide subsidies.

The first enterprise, Pepper's Place, grew from an informal coffee break at which people gave a dollar donation for raisin toast. “We didn’t even realise it was an enterprise when it started,” says Pat.

Five years later she has it all mapped out. Marginalised women are attracted to the centre through a variety of soft entry points and the most engaged among them make it into an enterprise, via a TAFE course.

From there, the idea is that they get a job on the open market, says Pat, who is pleased to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “We are changing the women’s lives and their children’s lives. It feels great to be recognised. Everyone wants to be recognised for their hard work.”

Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections plans to use its Westfield $10,000 Local Heroes grant to sponsor three women for three hours of paid employment a week for a year.

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