As BC spends time physical distancing, it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to reflect back on the last few weeks and see the ways our Work 2 Live program has adapted to the current changes.

The last 3 weeks have been challenging, however so many positives have shone through; our participants have been able to remain in their housing, which was a critical first step for our program. Our participants have previously faced housing instability, often leading to homelessness and crisis. Not surprisingly, they were fearful they would lose their housing and return to survival mode.  We prioritized offering support to each individual and reassurance that their housing was secure and we would create a plan for food during this time; food and housing are the basics of stability.

Our plan around food at the moment is creating an online weekly shopping list that covers the food staples both the boys’ and girls’ units need, and these are delivered by staff each week. We are ensuring all participants get groceries directly to provide, and are very grateful to Nesters Market for their support. One of our key priorities is to ensure that participants have enough food to maintain a healthy diet while self-isolating.

With the stability of food and housing in place, we then needed to adapt the other key services we access, like Mental Health Services including counsellors, G.P’s, and hospital appointments. Ensuring our participants continue to access the services they require is really important. It is easy to prioritize other things right now over our mental well-being. But the external stress, fear and anxiety often linked with increased access to social media, isolation from peers and family, and fear for older family members health, can result in mental well-being being impacted. We have been able to ensure all our participants continue to access these services, mostly through phone contact.

Usually we offer a varied schedule to our participants, including life skills training, time spent one-to-one, mountain access, training opportunities and other social activities. Having a weekly schedule, especially with things to look forward to, has a huge positive impact on well-being, motivation, goal setting, and day to day success. Over the last few weeks we have continued to offer a selection of group activities online through zoom, including Meditation, Yoga, Art Group, Well-Being Discussion Group,  and Life Skills Sessions, currently focusing on the RentSmart modules. These group activities have so far been a huge success. This is truly a reflection of our incredible participants who are so engaged with the program: whatever adaptions we have made, they have been enthusiastic to jump on board and offered great input to make them successful.

Our one-to-one sessions now need to take place either over the phone or through Zoom. One challenge we have faced is that the majority of our participants have limited access to technology devices – they only have the phones we have provided them. Completing E.I. applications has been challenging however we have been able to adapt and use so they can go through the online application process. Thank you to those who have responded to our recent requests for computers and monitors. We’ll be up and running in no time and they will make a real difference.

The positivity that participants show is extremely humbling, and shows the life skills they have developed around resilience, adaptability and motivation. I am extremely grateful to work with our participants and I sincerely thank the community for their ongoing support during these challenging times.

Rhianna Russell, Case Worker