The Salvation Army New Hope Community Centre in St. John’s is helping people get back on their feet. Its 12-week retail skills and commercial cleaning programs are committed to helping those furthest away from the labour market find work and income.
“These programs exist to create employment opportunities in which individuals with barriers can succeed,” says Program Coordinator Catherine French. “The Salvation Army strives to help people find the answers to their needs, all while raising their self-esteem. The Army believes that human dignity is a fundamental right for all.”
Participants include people who have been out of the work force for a long time, people who have never been employed, people with addictions or mental health issues, single parents, and newcomers.
For society’s most vulnerable, job interviews are scarce and when they get their foot in the door, lack of knowledge and life-skills often swings it back shut.
“Some clients who come for help have given up hope of ever being employed again,” says Catherine.
Bob’s (not his real name) self-esteem had sunk lower and lower following sexual abuse, drug addiction and an impaired driving charge. He felt he wasn’t entitled to be a contributing member of society. He walked through the doors of the New Hope Community Centre in tears, desperate to make his life better. Bob graduated from the commercial cleaning program with purpose and a higher level of confidence. Today he is gainfully employed.
Material covered includes everything from helping the students write a resume to learning how to respond to customer’s needs, to hard skills training to emotional readiness. “It all breeds confidence for when they walk into a job interview,” says Catherine. “And basic life-skills such as personal accountability and how to behave under different circumstances are taught so they keep jobs after they are hired.”
Karen, 36, is delighted she graduated from the retail-skills program. “It’s one of the biggest things I’ve accomplished. Sometimes you have to build up confidence to know you are just as good as anybody else.”