Julie Bertrand, Alberni Valley Times
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Five local agencies learned last December that they were getting a $123,600 Community Action Initiative training innovation grant for an outreach and advocacy project.
They were the Port Alberni Shelter Society, the Port Alberni Friendship Center, the Port Alberni Association for Community Living, the Vancouver Island Health Authority Adult Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Port Alberni branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. The groups will collaborate on a training program that will focus on collectively improving their community outreach and advocacy skills, while providing increased opportunity for collaboration among all service providers.
North Island College will partner with the agencies to plan the curriculum and deliver the learning. The Port Alberni Shelter Society will take the lead role in the project, meaning it will administer the funding. "We're the glue that ties everybody together," said Wes Hewitt, PASS director. He added the agencies decided to apply for the grant when they saw it had to do with mental health and addiction. "It's a very strong area for us," Hewitt said.
The training will enable outreach workers and advocates to make connections with other agencies, to work on a positive level with clients and to move them along the continuous changes.
"We are working with the clients so they can access what they need to access," Hewitt said. For example, case managers at the shelter will work with clients and connect them with VIHA Adult Mental Health and Addiction so that they might get treatments.
Then, VIHA will send clients who need housing to the shelter. "We have a really good group of agencies and groups that work together," Hewitt said. "This is just taking that and moving it to the next level."
Training will be split into eight modules of 12 hours. Participants will receive three hours of face-to-face training per module, while the remaining nine hours will be conducted by distance, using computer technology. Hewitt said it will take six months to develop and deliver the training.
Although workers from the five agencies will form the basic class enrollment, partners from other local agencies will be invited to get the training. Port Alberni North Island College campus principal Tom Weegar is very excited about the training project. "We're excited to work with the agencies and to do the training," he said. In fact, NIC is looking into making the training program a permanent course offering. "Hopefully, when we get the program developed and in place, it can be something that we can offer on a regular basis," Weegar said.
The grant is a feather in the cap of the five agencies, as their project was only one of 13 chosen in the province. In total, the Communication Action Initiative leadership council received 130 applications. "They narrowed it down to 29 at the second stage, and then 13 were funded," Hewitt said. The Community Action Initiative is funded through a $10 million grant from the B.C. government.
Training Website is at http://improvingoutcomes.weebly.com/