77 shelters available at Our Place and elsewhere in Victoria
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Returning to the workforce after a long absence is hard. Doing so when faced with barriers like homelessness or physical injury is even harder.

That’s why Our Place Society is launching the Next Steps for Employment program, designed for people with multiple barriers to employment who have “fallen through the cracks” but want to return to work.

“This is a new and unique program that supports people through every step of the process,” says Our Place executive director Don Evans.

Evans says the Next Steps to Employment program is a result of talking to people who visit Our Place on a daily basis and share their struggles of getting into the work force and maintaining a steady job.

“We realized that in order to do better in rekindling the hope of working again, we had to do it differently,” adds Evans.

Program emphasizes pre-employment skills

Jeremy Ball, Next Steps to Employment manager, tells Victoria Buzz that the program lasts 12 weeks, and helps participants every step of the way through to gaining employment.

Participants start by learning pre-employment skills, such as basic hygiene, time management, and communication skills.

They then move into employment skills, like how to build a resume and write a cover letter.

The program also offers one-on-one coaching, and supports participants up to six months into their employment at wherever they find a job.

Frank Bouree, a partner at GT Hiring Solutions, says he’s been impressed with the work done by Next Steps so far.

“Our GT Hiring Solutions WorkBC team is looking forward to working closely with Next Steps to assist those marginalized in our community find meaningful work,” he says.

Ball says that because of some of the barriers facing people who use the program, “they may have disqualified themselves” from ever finding work.

That makes it all the more important to support those who need an extra hand.

“Work is a critical element of feeling that one is part of a community,” he says.

Our Place recently finished a pilot program involving two cohorts of 10 to 16 people that started in November 2017. The program will now operate out of a new space at 1627 Quadra St.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house was hosted on Thursday, June 14, for the public to learn more about the program.

Ball says that most of Next Steps sessions are run by volunteers, and that Our Place is always looking for people willing to facilitate workshops.

“If people are out there who want to contribute, get in touch,” he says.

Evans says that as the Next Steps program moves forward, the work done will have an increasingly positive effect on the surrounding community.

“This gives people an opportunity to be lifted out of poverty,” he says. “It’s addressing a systemic issue.”