Disabled Rights advocate Steven Palmer says few disabled people are employed because of societal challenges.

New job program helps overcome barriers to employment

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul launches Job Skills on Feb. 11

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is launching a new job program in Sooke to provide support and training to people with barriers to employment.

Starting Feb. 11, the Job Skills program will assist people who face complex and multiple barriers to employment including poverty, homelessness, disability and mental health.

“Employment barriers are often associated with some type of disability,” said Margaret MacIntyre, coordinator of member and volunteer services with Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

“We know that employment is the way out of poverty and the path to a secure future.”

Job Skills is a seven-week program held every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m., from Feb. 11 to March 3 at Hope Centre, 6750 West Coast Rd.

Open to anyone, the program will concentrate on four key areas: motivation, communication, finding jobs using a computer and working from home. Workshop facilitators work with participants in both a classroom setting and one-on-one.

The program started a year ago in downtown Victoria, and now Society of Saint Vincent de Paul wants to expand it to Sooke and Central Saanich.

MacIntyre said the program grew from people at its food bank and the desire to help clients live past just a weekly handout of food and other goods.

The society asked their clients what they needed which would give them a better quality of life and most said employment.

“People tried to get jobs and they couldn’t because of barriers. Many couldn’t make ends meet on their disability pension but felt a part-time job to supplement their income would help,” MacIntyre said.

Steven Palmer, an advocate with Victoria-based Disabled Rights Alliance, said while job programs do help, disabled people still face a stigma within the workplace.

 

“I see very, very, very few people with visible disabilities employed,” he said. “There’s a negative view our society has of people with challenges.”