Victoria non-profit shuts down employment program helping people find a job

Victoria non-profit shuts down employment program helping people find a job

A well-known Victoria charity has quietly closed a program that helped people struggling with homelessness and addiction re-enter the workforce.

“We made some miracles happen,” said Ashley MacDonald, former manager of Our WorkPlace. “In total, the number of people that we got jobs would be in the hundreds.”

Our Place says they made the “difficult decision” to close Our WorkPlace due to a lack of funding, unable to secure the provincial grant historically used to fund the program, as first reported by CBC.

“There is no funding available at the moment. We have been told there may be other funds available in the future, which we are exploring,” Jordan Cooper, director of services with Our Place told CHEK News.

The former manager of the program, called Our WorkPlace argues there’s more to it.

“I know for certain there were other funding opportunities that weren’t given that chance,” said MacDonald. “We were told that day to pack our stuff so it’s hard for it to not feel punitive.”

Our Place says MacDonald didn’t mention the other avenues of funding to them.

“This is not a new problem,” said Cooper. “We’ve been trying to find for five years to find a sustainable form of funding for that program.”

MacDonald says the Victoria program which had been in place for over five years had an employment success rate of 52 per cent, with 250 active clients in the last six months.

She says its abrupt closure has left many of those clients in the lurch.

“Our clients, we have people’s passports. We weren’t given the chance to wrap it up with people. This is a population that never gets a lot of closure and that’s what hurts me,” said MacDonald.

Our Place says they’ve reached out to those in the program to have their personal belongings returned.

Regardless, MacDonald says she’s leaving our place “profoundly disappointed.”

“I just wish we had been treated a bit better. Things come to an end and that’s ok, but there is a right way to do it,'” said MacDonald.

MacDonald says she’s now in the early stages of starting a low-barrier non-profit of her own to fill the gap in employment services for those down and out in the region.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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