She has since started an online community platform where all those who have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19 can connect and support each other.
“There are some great resources available online for people looking for work, but there wasn't any interactive and supportive community platform for people facing job loss/redundancy to come together to seek support, inspiration, ideas and motivation to keep positive and keep moving forward,” says Jessie.
Some 125 people from around New Zealand have now joined her Not So Redundant Club which gives them opportunities to upskill, learn how to transfer skills, join regular Zoom check-ins and help each other out.
It was early in March that Jessie was told the company she worked for couldn’t keep delivering their service, which was placing teachers into remote overseas placements in Asia and Africa, for training purposes.
“I really loved the organisation that I worked for and I had fantastic colleagues, so it was a shock.”
Jessie says she was fortunate to have a great support network but it was still hard.
“Once you go into that lockdown environment and you’re not seeing people regularly, it gets harder to take good care of your mental health, especially with that uncertainty.”
“And with redundancy comes feelings of being redundant. You can think you aren’t worth as much as you thought you might have been or you question your worth.”
Through her own experience, she started thinking of all the thousands of Kiwis going through similar experiences but without the same support networks.
“I wanted to create a space where people could feel like they were part of a community that was going through similar challenges, and where they could ask questions and bring up things that friends or family that weren’t going through a redundancy might not be able to relate to as easily.”
After a move to Nelson in May with her partner, she got to work bringing her idea to life.
“For so many of our members, yes, they’ve lost jobs and it’s been very stressful but also if you can get to the space where you can accept that and then open your eyes to what is out there, it is incredible exciting.”
Jessie says she has learned a lot about herself over the last year.
“Everyone, myself included, is capable of far more than you ever think you’re capable of…. Fear can get in the way and stop you from doing wonderful things, so if you put that aside, just give it a go and say ‘what’s the worst that can happen’, you can actually do some pretty good stuff.”
The group’s members have also taught her some valuable lessons.
“It’s an amazing thing to give people permission to speak up. Sometimes they want to seek help, or talk about things but it’s not until there is a forum where they feel like they can that they actually will. So if you can provide that space for people, it’s amazing how open people will be.”
While riding the waves of 2020, Jessie has found positivity among the change.
“It’s made me reimagine life as a whole thing, so rather than thinking of work and then personal life, I’m thinking about how all the elements in my life can work together to complement each other, so I can have a healthy lifestyle.”
Jessie says she is now working towards growing the Not So Redundant Club, because it is not financially feasible for her in the long term to keep it going in a voluntary capacity.
“I would love for it to grow so I can support more people into work that they find fulfilling.”