Finding Strength in Diversity
Anyone walking through our doors must feel welcome and receive service in a way that feels inclusive and meets their unique needs. That is the goal to Lutherwood’s comprehensive strategy to create and enhance our inclusive culture and improve our services. Our Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council is currently working to enhance diversity and inclusion in our workplace culture, become part of a collaborative network to help with best practice knowledge, improve accessibility and expand services to better support underserved populations, and update policies, processes and practices to enhance diversity and inclusion.
Working to End Homelessness
The Region of Waterloo selected Lutherwood to lead the delivery of PATHS2Home, a newly redesigned housing service aimed at ending chronic homelessness. PATHS2Home has two primary services. The Prioritized Access to Housing Support (PATHS) team offers centralized access that coordinates and prioritizes housing support based on individual needs and circumstances. Home Based Support (HBS) teams then help people stay housed by developing a support plan, connecting individuals with longer term community supports (e.g. mental health, addiction, developmental, or health care) and encouraging individuals to become involved in community activities to increase their sense of inclusion and belonging.
Improving Access to Guelph’s Employment Services
It is important to have a space that everyone can access, regardless of ability and having three floors that could only be reached by stairs was a barrier for clients and staff at our former Guelph Employment Centre location. Our brand new Employment Centre (pictured left) in Guelph’s downtown core, opened to the public in July, is on one floor that can be conveniently accessed by elevator and has wider entranceways and spacious training rooms. By eliminating barriers to accessibility, we can now welcome everyone into our space.
Helping New Canadians Find Meaningful Work
One of the largest barriers newcomers to Canada face when it comes to finding work in their new country is a limited network of support. In March, Lutherwood’s Guelph Employment Centre hosted its annual Bridging the Gap conference, bringing 40 New Canadian professionals together to discuss job search strategies, grow their professional networks and meet with local employers. For many participants, this was their first face-to-face interaction with Canadian employers and their first chance to network in their new country. As a result, they were able to build confidence and become motivated about finding meaningful work in their fields.
Mentorship Alliance Connects Newcomers and Employers
Highly-skilled professionals with valuable international experience come to Canada as immigrants or refugees looking for a better life. While Canada needs their skills and knowledge to continue to grow, too many of these professionals end up working in an unrelated field. Finding work can be very challenging as newcomers must adapt to a different culture, language, work standard and job market. The Lutherwood Mentorship Alliance connects newcomers with local professionals to help them find relevant work and local companies tap into the internationally trained professional pool to fill employment gaps.
Innovation Improves Classroom Program Delivery
In September, the clinical and teaching staff at Lutherwood’s Children’s Mental Health Centre launched a new day treatment program model that enhances the intensive day treatment program for 12-18 year olds with complex mental health issues. Classrooms are now organized based on each student’s literacy, learning and developmental abilities. Supported by one-time funding from Cowan Foundation, the resulting model shortens wait times, increases capacity, better accommodates mid-term student enrollment, and better prepares students for re-integration into their community schools.
Physical Activity Benefits Mental Health
During the winter months, getting enough physical activity can be challenging and can impact mental health. In an effort to help families get active, Lutherwood and the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council partnered to host a free community family skate at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira. More than 200 community members attended and enjoyed free hot chocolate and the opportunity to skate with the Elmira Sugar Kings hockey team. Participants benefited from physical activity and enjoyed the opportunity to get to know others in their community.
10 Years of Steps for Kids
Lutherwood Child & Family Foundation celebrated 10 years of bringing the community together to raise funds and show support for children and families facing mental health challenges. What started in 2008, as a short 2 kilometre walk for about 50 people at Luther Village on the Park, attracted 700 participants this year and raised more than $149,000 to support children’s mental health programs. In total, Steps for Kids has raised over $748,000 thanks to corporate sponsorship and strong support from the community.
Lutherwood’s Lead Agency Advisory Committee, Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health and Parent’s for Children’s Mental Health have partnered to embed family engagement principles into the planning and delivery of children’s mental health services. This spring we hosted a Family Engagement Literacy Workshop for local service providers to develop a shared definition of family engagement and begin developing a strategy to embed family engagement practices into individual agencies and the broader system.