Community Programs

community programs

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Sharon McIntosh, ICCS’s Community Program Manager, at Orca Place in Parksville to talk about the community programs that ICCS offers. As a Manager, she oversees our Community Housing Program, Project Rise, LifeSkills, the allocated Canada British Columbia Housing Benefit Rent Subsidies (CBCHB), the allocated Supported Rent Supplement Program Rent Subsidies (SRSP), Oceanside Community Outreach, and the Housing and Outreach Support Team (HOST) Outreach Program in the Oceanside community.

Sharon ensures that each of the individuals that work on her team, there are five currently, soon to be six, are supported in their roles so that they have all the resources and information that they need to support those individuals who reside either in the Nanaimo or Oceanside communities. This focus also ensures that we meet or exceed our deliverables set out by our funders and also ensures that we take a collaborative, solution-focused approach to meeting the ever-demanding complex needs of those individuals who face barriers every day.

“I really see my role as connecting with each individual on the team, on a fairly routine basis,” Sharon says. “Usually, it’s every two weeks that we do a one-on-one check in, and I support them as they progress through their programs. What is different about my role is I am not just overseeing five outreach workers or coordinators; I am actually overseeing five programs, soon to be six. It makes for a very busy time, but I love doing it,” she adds.

Because there is an array of experience on the community programs team, there is lots of opportunity for mentorship between the team members as well. “We are a very new team, so we are building this department as we go along. We clarify our roles and responsibilities and ensure that we serve our clients and strive to meet the ever-changing needs of the community,” Sharon explains.

Sharon adds that working with each of the programs in her department is very exciting. The Project Rise Program is a skills-based employment training program with an optional work experience opportunity. This program has been specially customized for those individuals who have been under housed, newly housed, and just really want to take that next step to some training and skill development.

“They receive professional development certificates. We provide WHMIS training, Food Safe, First Aid, Naloxone training, and a variety of different topics and mini-workshops. There are a lot of program perks as well. We provide job readiness shopping for each of the program participants, as well as bus passes, gas cards and a great lunch! We also provide a job fair for them. They receive interview experience from some of our community partners, and then they get placed with them for one of the optional work placements,” Sharon notes.

It is a very inclusive 12-week program. With 6 weeks in the classroom and 6 weeks out in the field where the participants receive optional work experience. We keep in touch with clients after they graduate to make sure that they are still supported and to understand the impact and outcomes that the program has had for them. Project Rise is an amazing program that offers a year-round application window with cohorts that run Jan, April, July, and September. The program is facilitated by our Project Rise coordinator who can be reached at: projectrise@iccare.ca to answer any questions.

Then there is LifeSkills! We have an amazing coordinator, who provides life skills, information, supports and resources to all three of our ICCS housing sites, Orca Place, Samaritan Place and Newcastle. The impact that we have seen on these clients has been unbelievable. The LifeSkills program also acts as a feeder path into the Project Rise program. This allows some of our clients who live in our supportive housing sites the opportunity to gain valuable skills and perhaps move into more independent living as they become employed or find new confidence in themselves! More information regarding our LifeSkills program can be requested by emailing our LifeSkills Coordinator at: lifeskills@iccare.ca

We also provide both supported and regular rent subsidies through the allocation of CBCHB and SRSP rent subsidies from BC Housing to help those households access appropriate, affordable, safe, and inclusive housing in their community. Our SRSP outreach worker helps many of our internal housing clients acquire subsidies as well as those clients who live in regular market rentals in the community. Referral packages can be requested by emailing our SRSP outreach worker at: chp1@iccare.ca

Our Oceanside community outreach worker is based out of Orca Place in the Oceanside community. However, for most of the day, the OCO worker is out in the community connecting with clients who have no fixed address or clients that are under housed or unhoused in order to help them access housing. This allows us to provide supports, information, and resources to clients so that they are well connected in the community and know that they are not forgotten! The OCO worker also collaborates with other community partners to provide wraparound services to ensure that there are no gaps in services while also making certain that there is no duplication of service. “It’s been great to have our boots on the ground and eyes on the street with our OCO worker, and we really appreciate that work.” Sharon adds. More information can be requested by emailing our OCO Worker at: oceansideoutreach2@iccare.ca

Then we have our HOST outreach worker who helps those individuals who are housed, but still need a little bit of extra support throughout the week. This may include weekly home visits, providing transportation supports, taking them to the local food bank, bringing them to doctor’s appointments and staying in contact with them on a regular basis. This also ensures that they have all the supports they need for them to maintain their housing. ICCS holds leases on some units and coordinates with landlords. More information can be requested by emailing our HOST outreach worker at: oceansideoutreach@iccare.ca

“What is beautiful about this department and all these amazing people that I work with is that all these individuals work together, and not just in their own department or program. They all work together with support from in-service trainings and/or cross training, so that if one person has a client that may need resources or supports from another of our programs, we can then actually do internal referrals as well,” Sharon explains.

“My job is really just to ensure that everything keeps moving forward and that if there’s any additional training, supports or resources that my team may need, then I make that available to them. I also go to them for insights as they know their programs best. I strategize with them with their IT, emails and stats and things like that, and just continue to provide the support that they need,” Sharon says and adds that “it is truly a rewarding role where I can work with such a dedicated group of individuals within an amazing organization that gives so much to the community!”

More information about our Community Programs can be requested by emailing Sharon at: smcintosh@iccare.ca