Shepherds helping people find work

Jun 25, 2016 by

DeirdreHeadshotGrey

At Shepherds of Good Hope, we have long gotten away from providing “three hots and a cot” for those who come to us in need. We are more than a soup kitchen that provides three meals per day to our clients and residents and much more than an emergency shelter which simply provides a place to sleep.

Creating innovative programs and services to meet the ever changing needs of our clients has become our hallmark. When women and men arrive at our doors, we try to determine their needs as quickly as possible. This helps us to connect them to the appropriate resources so they can leave the shelter for a permanent home, knowing they will have access to programs and services in the community.

An exciting initiative currently under way is the expansion of our Workers Program. Supported by an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant for the next three years, we will follow Housing First principles and work with our clients to identify employment opportunities. Obviously, finding paid employment allows people to maintain housing so they won’t have a need to stay in shelters in the future.

The Worker Program will focus on assisting participants with developing and/or enhancing their employment skills, finding sustainable employment and providing support throughout the process. This addresses two components of the social determinants of health – housing and employment – by:

  • Rapidly transitioning clients to housing and providing ongoing supports to keep it
  • Providing employment supports, counselling and conflict mediation to enhance job security
  • Identifying paid employment opportunities specifically designed to aid clients in transitioning to a competitive labour market
  • Securing tenancy, which helps move people toward independence

During the summer months, we will be working diligently to identify community businesses interested in this program. Funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation allows us to provide a wage subsidy to interested employers for a period of time. This helps employers and employees develop good working relationships, which we hope will lead to permanent employment and, therefore, permanent housing.

This is one of the many innovative programs we offer at Shepherds of Good Hope. It aligns with our goals and with the City of Ottawa’s Housing First model. Clients might move to housing in one of our five supportive living residences, or they may have other options throughout the City.

Either way, the end result is a safe and secure home of their own, paid employment that is meaningful, independence and self-sufficiency. These are the things many of us take for granted daily. Wouldn’t it be nice for others to feel that same sense of security and accomplishment?

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Deirdre Freiheit is the President and CEO of Shepherds of Good Hope

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