Love trees? The Arborist Ground Worker Training Program provides job seekers with industry training that enhances productivity, safety and efficiency while enhancing communication, problem-solving and critical thinking skills — all in a practical learning environment that mimics the workplace setting.
Today, we decided to postpone all in-person intake appointments and shift all services to telephone. As of Thursday, March 19th, Pathways will no longer be holding in person participant meetings.
The health of our entire community is of the utmost importance to us.
We continue to take steps to ensure social distancing protocols are implemented during this unprecedented situation.
Pathways Employment Services and supports remain available to the community. We are moving to phone-based services.
If you have an appointment booked with one of our Employment Counsellors, Employment Placement Specialists or Skills Coordinators you will receive a text message from us and/or phone call from a staff member, confirming your telephone appointment time.
Prior to today, the following steps were put in place to ensure the safety of all staff and clients.
- Enhanced cleaning protocols and inspections
- Hand sanitizers in every room
- social distancing & decreased physical contact.
We will continue to operate and serve our clients to help you overcome barriers and secure meaningful employment.
If you need to connect with our staff about any concerns or questions regarding your employment, please call into the office at 519-667-7795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to keep you informed of any changes to services as this situation progresses.
Paul Hubert, CEO, Pathways Skill Development and Placement Centre
MEGAN STACEY Updated: January 6, 2020
Nearly one-third of Londoners getting off social assistance are finding work, outpacing provincial targets and bringing the caseload to a low that hasn’t been seen in years, 2019 figures show.
The number of people on Ontario Works dropped by about 10 per cent in London last year, with the welfare caseload expected to rest around 10,700 by the end of December. It’s the first time since 2013 that number dipped below 11,000.
City officials say the change is a result of staff working harder to connect people with job skills and work training programs, but one poverty expert warns the numbers don’t tell the full story.
“It’s great to have this momentum. We’ve sort of been stagnant at 12,000,” said Kevin Dickins, city hall’s manager of employment and income supports.
Thirty per cent of people getting off Ontario Works last year had found employment, a rate well above the provincial target for London.
But finding a job doesn’t mean it’s a well-paying job, social justice advocate Sue Wilson said. She’s the director of systemic justice with the Sisters of St. Joseph and co-chair of the London Poverty Research Centre.
“We need to look at the quality . . . we don’t have a clear picture,” Wilson said.
“The concern would be that they’re going from Ontario Works, which is such an intense level of poverty — really, people spend a lot of their effort just trying to survive — into a slightly less intense experience of poverty, which is not really moving us forward as a city.”
The 30 per cent rate also means more than two-thirds of people moving off social assistance in London aren’t doing so because they found work. Instead, they may have moved, shifted to the higher-paying Ontario Disability Support Program, or simply stopped collecting assistance without closing their file.
Still, the positive trends are a bright spot in a city that’s struggled with joblessness and a lagging labour participation rate, an issue The Free Press is exploring in a series called Face It.
Dwayne Hill landed a job running the kitchen at the Hamilton Road Seniors’ Centre in 2017, designing near-daily menus to meet all kinds of dietary preferences, after 10 years on Ontario Works.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” the 39-year-old said.
He also has been sharing his food knowledge in schools, teaching Thames Valley District school board students about traditional Indigenous meals.
“I started cooking when I was six years old,” Hill said, later gaining experience catering with family members and later on his own.
Sweet wild rice casserole is his specialty.
Hill worked part time at a hotel restaurant while on assistance — Ontario Works is “not the best income,” he said — and still takes evening and weekend shifts there.
Approaching his 40th birthday this week, Hill spent six months homeless and living in motels before moving into a new apartment in December.
He’d fallen victim to a rental scam that robbed him of first and last month’s rent.
But he said maintaining a positive attitude, setting personal goals and having the support of friends and family helped him move from assistance to full-time work.
Hill also credits the Bridges Out of Poverty program in London with helping him land the seniors centre post. That initiative builds confidence, social networks, and connects people on assistance with volunteer mentors, often people who have been through the same journey.
London has embraced the program, which has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and sees more than half its graduates get jobs.
Michael Courey, co-ordinator of the London Poverty Research Centre, suggested the Bridges program may be one reason, along with London employment agencies, why more people are able to stop drawing social assistance. Staff made 15 per cent more referrals to organizations such as Goodwill and Pathways, which offer help sprucing up resumes, training and assistance in job hunting — an increase city hall’s Dickins credits with the overall changes.
The city’s low employment rate — the lowest among all regions measured in Canada until very recently — also may suggest there are lots of jobs available for people coming off Ontario Works, Courey said.
Most of the people who walk in through the door of the London Community Woodshop come to transform a piece of wood into something useful, but Lori Joseph says almost all of them end up transforming themselves in the process.
Lori Joseph sees it all the time.
Most of the people who walk in through the door of the London Community Woodshop come to transform a piece of wood into something useful, but she says almost all of them end up transforming themselves in the process.
It’s why the coordinator of the London Community Woodshop offers a friendly heads up to all those who enter.
“I joke and say ‘I just want to warn you, you’re going to make friends here whether you want to or not,'” she laughs.
“I’ve seen people blossom, their whole personality and their ability,” she says.
One of those people is Jeff Turnbull.
He’s found not only mentorship, but a new sense of purpose after a prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment made him re-evaluate his life.
Turnbull applied and got a $5,000 grant to start his own business, Family Tree Woodworking. At about the same time, he heard about the London Community Woodshop, which was about to have its grand opening.
At first, he didn’t want to join.
“I thought it would be really busy,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine working around so many people, but it turns out that’s the best part.”
Turnbull found his skills accelerated at a pace he never imagined possible. When he wasn’t sure how to do something, he realized that at the London Community Woodshop all he had to do was tap someone on the shoulder.
“I thought at home I had a pretty good grip on all this stuff and I was pretty talented at woodworking, but I come here and it’s a whole other level higher.”
It’s not just skills he’s acquired either.
‘I’ve made a lot of close relationships’
Turnbull says the woodshop transformed him.
He remembers a time when he was recovering from cancer that he just didn’t feel normal and was depressed at the possibility he might never feel like himself again.
With help from his newfound friends, he was able to beat the after-effects of cancer.
He was able to keep his mind off his worries by working with wood, or talk it out if he needed to and, when he was feeling low, which was almost daily in the beginning, there was always a daily hug from Lori.
“It saved me in a way,” Turnbull said of the woodshop. “It really helped with my recovery and helped me feel normal again.”
“It’s like therapy.”
After a chemical weapon exploded near his home in war-torn Syria, Yousef Alkurdi said boredom and isolation were just as overwhelming as the injuries he spent three years recovering from in a Lebanese hospital.
Speaking through translator Eman El Halies, an administrative assistant at Pathways Skill Development and Placement Centre who’s helping the Syrian refugee and his family adjust to their new lives in London, Alkurdi said he needed over seven surgeries within the first six months of his lengthy hospital stay.
No one was allowed to enter his room because of the chemicals,” El Halies said. “He was totally isolated for the first six months and then after that, to keep himself sane, he asked them to bring him wax and soap.”
Most people stuck in a hospital bed might not find much comfort in those items but for Alkurdi, an experienced wood carver who said he has been working with his hands since he was 14 years old, they meant a reprieve from the loneliness of his room and an opportunity to work with materials he was unfamiliar with.
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