Employment and participation in society have been identified as key factors in leading a healthy life. Survivors of mental health challenges have historically faced barriers to secure income and financial stability, with unemployment rates of 70-90%.
Often A-Way is a first job after years of illness and unemployment.
We not only provide our staff with employment but opportunities to thrive.
Opportunities to Socialize
A-Way encourages its staff to form social support networks to connect with one another, to improve nutrition, access cultural and sports activities, relax, and have fun.
The Breakfast Club produces healthy meals two days a week for our couriers to start their day. The Breakfast Club has recently expanded beyond breakfast and hosts a ‘Spaghetti Dinner’ every Friday after work.
The Social Club arranges fun and interesting outings like bowling and trips to art galleries.
The Alumni Club welcomes former employees for a meal and a chance to maintain connections with acquaintances and former colleagues.
The Art Club meets monthly to explore creative projects. They are currently making cards that are for sale in the office.
While some A-Way employees stay with A-Way for the long term, others wish to transition into other employment – either in careers they have had in the past, or forging new paths.
Supported by the City of Toronto’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy, A-Way now has an employment program. We have a dedicated Employment Support Specialist who develops trainings, partnerships, mentorships and placement programs to help staff develop new skills, experiences and connections. In addition, our Employment Specialist meets one on one with staff to help them create resumes, practice interview skills and investigate personal career options.
We also encourage all staff to gain new skills and experience through internal opportunities such as new positions within the office, sitting on the A-Way Board of Directors or joining one of the organization’s standing committees.
It is often a challenge to identify and access the appropriate services required, whether they relate to mental or physical health, finances, housing or legal support.
We provide this information to employees where we are able and have established a partnership with Fred Victor to augment this support. One of Fred Victor’s valued staff comes to A-Way twice a month to provide support and information to staff.
A-Way is a Consumer-Survivor Initiative (CSI). This means that the organization not only employs people with lived experience of mental health issues, but was founded and is run by people with lived experience. Even our board is comprised primarily of people with lived experience of mental health issues.
This places us in a unique position to connect with people within the mental health community. As a result, we have formed a network with other CSIs , specifically those who – like us – receive core funding from the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TC LHIN).
Funded by the TC LHIN, our role as the CSI Network is to connect with the mental health community. We ensure that they are informed of initiatives and services available within our health system and we communicate to the TC LHIN, on trends and needs that we learn about through connecting with mental health survivors.