For two years, Hannah Whiteman worked with young offenders in prison, ensuring they received the right treatment and completed necessary programmes.

Whiteman was a case manager for the Department of Corrections where she would also write reports, recommendations and case notes.

Now the 26-year-old wants to help youth so they do not end up in prison and has taken a step towards doing so by joining 100% Sweet Whanganui.

Whiteman has been employed as the business engagement facilitator, where she will focus on getting community businesses to invest in youth.


Whiteman said she has always enjoyed working with youth and that was her main attraction to the newly-created role.

"Working with Corrections has given me a lot more understanding about the struggles that our youth can have," she said.

"There are a lot of challenges and influences in the community around them. A big thing for me in this role is to help youth before they get to that point of getting into mischief."

Managed by former police officer Jason Shailer, 100% Sweet aims to get 100 per cent of students in Whanganui into education, employment and training.

Whiteman began the role on Monday and has since been meeting with Shailer's contacts. They will begin visiting schools when students return for term four.

At schools, their aim is to remind leaving students to be organised before moving on to further studies or looking for employment.

One way they can do that is by obtaining a Work Ready Passport which covers things such as personal wellness, communication and work experience.

It involves students completing a workbook, being interviewed by the Whanganui Chamber of Commerce and, if successful, receiving a passport to show employers.


Whiteman went to Whanganui Girls' College before moving away and then returning to the River City to work for Work and Income for five years.

She has a short-term goal of developing a bigger online presence for 100% Sweet and a long-term goal of getting 50 more businesses on board with the organisation.

"I'm not afraid to rock up to a business and ask for help or to try to get them on board. I'm positively stubborn. I don't really take no for an answer.

"I'm not scared to go back to a business after a few months just to see if they've had a re-think about things."

100% Sweet is governed by the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust, a charitable trust made up of business, education, tertiary and local government leaders.

They work with businesses, tertiary providers, secondary schools and students in an effort to grow the city and retain talented youth.