Eastside Works is Open!
Austin Lui is currently completing his Master’s degree at the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) at UBC. Austin is a Project Coordinator with LEDlab, working on the Eastside Works project under the guidance of EMBERS.
After years of planning and countless partnerships, EMBERS and Urban Core are excited to announce that Eastside Works finally opened its doors to the public on April 4, 2018.
As discussed in my previous blog, we held one facilitated consultation event and ten drop-in sessions over two months and engaged over 80 community members – including residents, volunteers, peers, and staff from other organizations. Most of what was heard was through one-on-one conversations and questions that were answered on large sheets of paper scattered across the room. People shared a wide diversity of ideas, perspectives, and stories. As we reflected on what we heard, some patterns emerged.
Firstly, we had an overwhelmingly positive response to Eastside Works filling a gap in the community. Many folks were looking for work, or something to do with their time. Most people see work as another community and a place to grow, just as much as they prioritize the monetary value of work. Many were in some stage of transition in their live, wanting to get back into the workforce and be more involved with the community. People showed interest in working with other peers and sharing their skills and insights. Most people, when asked, already volunteer in some capacity.
Those who were self-employed, enjoyed the freedoms of setting their own schedule to suit their lifestyle. People who were self-employed wanted to improve their computer and marketing skills, and find new opportunities to sell their products (online, storefronts from local businesses, etc.). Even those who were not self-employed enjoyed flexible work hours. Most who came in were on some form of income assistance, most commonly, Person With Disabilities (PWD). These ideas and insights have helped shaped our services and what kinds of programs and workshops we will be offering.
As of April 16, we have officially been open for 9 days. We have facilitated 7 workshops. These workshops have included soft skills workshops (offered by Knack), Tech Cafes (DTES Literacy Roundtable), and a financial literacy workshop. We have also trained 2 peers to be mentors for our self-employment mentorship program. 30 community members have gone through our in-take process, and we have engaged with these community members 92 times.
Eastside works will be hosting its grand opening event on Thursday, April 19, open for all to attend. I’m happy to say that I’ve been hired to stay on and work with EMBERS Eastside Works as staff. I look forward to continuing on and help this project grow into a valuable resource to the community.
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