Much has transpired at Link Up Winnipeg since December 2005. At that time, the office was staffed by one consultant who established the Winnipeg operation in July 2005. With the assistance of a summer student and a volunteer, Link Up had since had much success in retaining clients as well as in introducing the organization to the many charitable organizations and service providers across the city of Winnipeg. Link Up also relocated to a new centralized, wheelchair accessible office on Lombard Avenue, just across from the Richardson Building and close to all bus connections. The original consultant left the organization in November 2006, leaving a legacy to uphold. In December 2006, Link Ups volunteer, who has a varied background in banking, teaching, marketing and also extensive entrepreneurial experience, stepped into the role of employment consultant. A second volunteer, bilingual and also with a diverse work background, joined Link Up shortly thereafter. This volunteer was taken on as Link Ups second employment consultant in April 2007 and so Link Up doubled in size.
Link Up Winnipeg since then has continued to develop its client base through networking, word-of-mouth, and via referrals from other social service providers. Link Up has encountered many obstacles, challenges and delays along the way, only to come across yet another generous Samaritan or organization at just the right moment. Link Up is proud of its identity today as a one-stop solution for job seekers with disabilities. At the same time, Link Up realizes that it cant do it all, but its minimum commitment to clients is to move them at least one step further along their process to becoming employed in the industry of their dreams. Link Up Winnipeg hopes to expand its operation to include a resource centre as well as a marketing department. Link Up continues to develop quality contacts in the Social Services sector including the distinguished Society for Manitobans with Disabilities, the Independent Living Resource Centre, SEED Winnipeg, Central Health Services, The Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg, Versatech Industries, Canadian Mental Health Association, Health and Social Services, Family Services and Housing, and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
Link Up has also placed major emphasis on building relationships in the corporate sector. For the most part, major financial and crown corporations such as banks and credit unions, Manitoba Hydro, MLCC and other government agencies maintain their commitment to an all inclusive diverse workforce. Link Up was involved in the annual Manitoba Business Leadership Network (MBLN) 2007 Employment Fair at the beginning of October. (The MBLN is linked to the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce). As a result of this participation, Link Up gained many clients, far more than anticipated, highlighting again the need for its services in this city. Link Up also gained a better understanding of the criteria that employers use when looking for employees. Link Up also realizes the importance of further self-education, if it is to succeed in its mandate of promoting the abilities of clients with disabilities in the workforce. Finally, Link Up has become a member of MEEPA - Manitoba Employment Equity Practitioners Association, another local non-profit organization that networks hard to ensure that those in the disability community have a voice.
Link Up has also established a wonderful connection with Winnipeg Harvest and their group of staff and volunteers. They provide a crucial role in allowing Link Up to place clients in a volunteer role, who are facing the issue of either entering or re-entering the workforce, perhaps after a gap in employment history, or who may just need the extra experience to add to their resume. Winnipeg Harvest then provides an assessment of each client over the course of six weeks, which assists Link Up with its clients action plans. Finally, they also provide their volunteers with food after 12 hours of volunteer time, so its a nice win-win solution.
Link Up is also very excited to be working with a fairly newly established charitable organization called Urban Youth Adventures (UYA). UYA is an urban mission initiative of Camp Arnes, in partnership with World Vision Canadian Programs, and was founded in 2006. With a vision to decrease child poverty and its impact in the inner city and in the north end of Winnipeg, they are committed to inspiring youth hope and a vision for the future. The goal of UYA programming is to help youth at risk to recognize and take advantage of the freedoms and powers they have to make good choices and to envision a positive future for themselves and their communities. UYA programs and activities are all designed to provide contexts in which youth can connect relationally with staff and volunteers who are trained to mentor the youth. They have opened their resource centre in the north central end of Winnipeg, and are in a position to hire staff and volunteers. UYA has accepted one Link Up client to start working full time this month, with duties including mentoring to youth as a youth worker.
As is widely known, most persons with disabilities rely on social services for their existence. Since they are literally living below the poverty level, one of the many challenges they face is little or no access to computers. This is another invisible barrier which Link Up noticed that is taken for granted by those employed. Link Up therefore takes pride in another quality connection developed with Computers for Schools, who have generously agreed to donate their refurbished computers, loaded with MS Office 2000 operating system, to schools, libraries, as well as to other non-profit agencies. The result is that many Link Up Winnipeg clients now have access to a computer. They still need to be able to afford the Internet fees, but if they cant, at the very least they are able to become more familiar with a computer at home, programs to work on or even just to enhance their keyboarding skills. This goes back to Link Ups one step forward approach. Wouldnt it be nice if Link Up could move its clients just one step further, to the point of living a modest lifestyle, if not yet to a middle class standard of living?
Link Up Winnipegs motto If You Believe It, You Will Achieve It has served it well.
Link Ups two employment consultants plus all of its volunteers work together as a team as well as one-on-one, to provide to improve outcomes for clients. Link Up takes pride in its work, and tries its very best to help its clients succeed. In the near future, Link Up hopes to add a section to the website which will include stories written from clients perspectives, as related to their experience with job searching and employment. Link Up would like to invite all of its clients, both past and present, to submit their stories for inclusion in this section. Link Up is looking forward to this newest inclusion and will keep everyone up to date as progress is made.
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Archived reports from Link Up offices across Canada