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Young man opens eyes to his own capabilities

Person-centred approach key to success, says manager
A young man named Thomas has a new view of his capabilities, thanks in large part to the work and training opportunities he’s explored over the past year through the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) employment services program.

“I think what’s most successful and most exciting about this is I know that that young man, regardless of where he goes from here, . . . has opened his eyes to his own capabilities,” employment services manager Steve Withrington tells the BACI Blast.

Steve says he and others who worked with Thomas saw him sometimes shock himself with the realization of what he was able to do as he went through various employment and training experiences.

“We saw that sometimes, he actually thought, ‘I had no idea I was able to do this.’”

Steve recalls his first meeting with the young man. He lay on the sofa, “very much underneath his hoodie,” having just gotten out of bed at 2 p.m.

He was reluctant to listen, reluctant to converse and reluctant to get involved. His general attitude was that he didn’t need any of the support the BACI team had to offer.

It was largely a person-centred approach that helped effect a change, says Steve.

“I think predominantly it was an openness from the people that were supporting him . . . to work with (Thomas) at his pace,” he says.

“We didn’t have a scripted approach to how we were going to support him and what we intended to achieve,” says Steve, adding Thomas was very involved in the direction he took.

Through BACI’s employment services program, Thomas has been able to experience several different paid employment opportunities, including working with the organization’s landscaping and gardening social enterprise. He also gained some painting and decorating experience, and worked in an automotive car detailing shop for six weeks, which Steve describes as “successful in itself.”

Last fall, Thomas was enrolled into a light warehouse employment and training program for people interested in working in the warehouse industry. Through that, he earned several certificates, including one for health and safety, and a forklift license. His graduation is scheduled for February, and there are plans for the whole BACI team that worked with him to attend.

“We’ve been able to equip him over the last year with a lot more tools in his armory, so to speak, to enable him to increase his independence,” says Steve.

The BACI employment services program has a current 43 referrals waiting to receive support to move into paid employment.

“My hope is that over the next 18 months to three years, not only as a service within an organization, but as an organization, we become more proficient at that (support), and we will be able to get it right more often and see similar successes,” he says.

If you have feedback on this article please contact michelle(at)axiomnews.ca, or call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 27.

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