Project Rise helps clients succeed along their journey

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“I have full confidence these participants are going to succeed.”

These words are spoken by Elspeth Erickson as she reflects on the past few weeks of Island Crisis Care Society’s (ICSS) new program Project Rise.

United Way British Columbia through Government of Canada's Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy is helping change lives by providing a grant to ICCS’ new training and paid work placement program, Project Rise. The grant helps cover half the minimum wage while participating work hosts pay the other half.

“We try to provide programming that responds to the needs of those who are homeless and who have gone through other challenging times in their life.”

Many of ICCS’ clients have expressed a desire to take a next step and positively join society by finding employment. Quite often that move forward is an intimidating leap. “It has to do with everything from lack of opportunities for education through to adverse experiences that perhaps have affected people’s learning about relationships in the workplace.”

Training is a combination of practical training in specific skills, like carpentry, landscaping, food safety, and first aid training mixed with life skills such as how to interact positively, how to develop a resume, and how to manage time.

The program comprises 4 weeks of training followed by an 8-week paid work placement with a local business or nonprofit. This week, the first cohort of 5 participants finishes their training and will begin their placements.

After a job fair that saw participants ready their resumes, research potential work sites, and practice their interview skills, all have confirmed their placements. Starting from a place of success, the aim is to match the aptitudes and interests of participants with the interests and needs of the work host. In fact, all the hosts indicated they would take all the participants after their interviews.

As Lisa Balkwill, or Laundry to her friends, says, “I was excited about the program before I even came here. I had started a job search before this and the Manager where I live at ICCS told me about the program. I thought it would be great.”

Lisa’s plans don’t stop with the end of the program. Her ultimate dream is to become a teacher in carpentry and horticulture.

“My placement is with the Salvation Army thrift store. I’m really happy they’re taking me on because I have no customer service. All my resume is labour and trades. It’d be nice have some of the business skills.”

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