Hundreds of survivors of violence and/or abuse in nearly every corner of the province can now access skills training and supports crucial to their independence and healing.
Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, celebrated the launch of 15 programs throughout B.C. at Kiwassa Neighbourhood House. With more than $924,000 over two years, 94 people will gain employment skills and counselling supports through Kiwassa's new EMPOW3R program.
“People who have survived violence and abuse and face multiple barriers to steady, good-paying jobs deserve opportunities to create better circumstances for themselves and their families,” said Mark. “New programs for vulnerable and under-represented people support them to break the cycle of violence and be part of a prosperous B.C. economy that works for everyone.”
Fifteen projects that are tailored to the needs of local communities are being launched throughout the Province. In total, $5 million a year will support approximately 675 survivors of violence and/or abuse by providing job skills and wraparound supports they need to secure employment.
“The impacts of poverty are far-ranging and complex,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Connecting survivors of violence with supports and skills training to build their capacity and gain employment will help them as they move toward the independence they need and deserve.”
Survivors of violence and/or abuse may face multiple barriers to employment, including reliable housing and child care, a lack of recent work experience, and psychological and emotional issues related to abuse or trauma.
“Supporting people rebuilding their lives after violence, including gender-based and sexual violence, with skills training means help is available for those who need it most,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “With 15 organizations throughout B.C. offering programs that meet their communities’ needs, more people can access the supports to move forward and heal.”
To help break down barriers to employment, programs offer wraparound supports that can include work experience and job placements and mental wellness services. Skills training will prepare participants to work in a range of industries, ranging from health care to horticulture, and transportation to technology.
Throughout B.C., some projects will be available for all participants while others will be targeted toward Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, refugees and other newcomers to Canada, and women.
Mark Gifford, executive director, Kiwassa Neighbourhood Services Society –
“Supports like one-to-one coaching, peer support and child care break down barriers, while career planning, networking and work experience help survivors build skills through the EMPOW3R program. Survivors leave not only with meaningful work or better employment prospects, but with improved confidence, health and relationships they’ve nurtured through the program.”
Patricia Rawson, interim leadership team member, Bridges for Women Society –
“What we understand at Bridges for Women Society is how violence and abuse impact many facets of women’s lives, including employment. Building a foundation of healing, developing the skills and tapping into their own resilience allow our clients to reclaim their lives and end the cycle of violence, as well as isolation and poverty. We are pleased to continue our legacy of trauma-informed programming on southern Vancouver Island. We are grateful to the Province for its commitment to funding programs for women survivors of violence and/or abuse throughout B.C.”
- The majority (87%) of victims of sexual assaults reported to police are female, particularly young women and girls.
- About two-thirds of domestic violence victims in Canada are women.
- Indigenous women are 3.5 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to experience violence.
- While the majority of relationship violence is against women – each year 20,000 women in B.C. experience relationship violence – some of the new programs are for men who have experienced violence and/or abuse.
WorkBC – jobs, education and career information: www.workbc.ca
Skills training for employment programs: www.workbc.ca/skillstraining-employment
Kiwassa Neighbourhood Services Association: www.kiwassa.ca
A backgrounder follows.