Skills for Change’s innovative services have been recognized by the Federal Government of Canada with the 2020 Canada’s Volunteer Award (CVA) for the Social Innovator category in the region of Ontario.
For 38 years, Skills for Change has played a major role in uplifting immigrant communities. As one of the leading holistic service providers for newcomers and internationally-trained professionals in Canada, Skills for Change offers more than 25 programs and services, and annually serves 16,000 newcomers, immigrants and vulnerable groups with services around settlement, language training, employment support, training opportunities, mental health counselling, entrepreneurship, mentorship and more.
During COVID-19, when the new immigrants and marginalized groups were disproportionately impacted and spoke of their anxiety, lack of support systems and increasing needs exacerbated by the pandemic, this acted as a catalyst for Skills for Change to respond innovatively by creating new initiatives such as:
- Providing virtual mental health counselling recognizing that worsening of mental health was one of the prevalent effects of the pandemic.
- Creating virtual spaces for women to network with each other and receive professional support as women have been impacted with not only a greater number of loss of jobs, but future isolation due to the pandemic. Skills for Change worked with women clients facing domestic violence and childcare-related challenges, and provided a safe space for women to support each other during the pandemic.
- Starting a podcast sharing interviews with frontline staff to highlight on-the-ground experiences faced by vulnerable clients and the services available to support them.
- Starting a technology lending program for clients who need laptops to access programming.
- Distributing essential supplies to immigrants who are unemployed and from low-income communities.
- Launching holistic support programming with a focus on mental health counselling for low-income populations.
Focusing on delivery methods and employer engagement, and in response to the havoc wreaked by COVID-19 pandemic on the community, Skills for Change implemented a new strategy to expand its services to include creative virtual delivery of programs and workshops, generating a broader reach and engagement with our clients.
Skills for Change, through its focus on capacity building of new immigrants and their integration into the Canadian economy and society, has made a lasting difference in the community by changing many lives for the past 38 years.
“My heartfelt thanks to Skills for Change’s staff, volunteers, mentors and Board of Directors who contribute their expertise, compassion and energy for building equitable and welcoming communities for Immigrants and Refugees through our programs and services. Our hard work is part of our agency’s wider mission to help Immigrants and Refugees successfully integrate economically, socially and civically in Canada.” says Surranna Sandy, CEO of Skills for Change.
She further mentions, “I am happy that our proactive efforts to constantly provide augmented support and services to our client base during the pandemic has been recognised by the Government of Canada, and I am very proud to lead a team of such dedicated individuals whose contributions and commitment are invaluable to the communities we serve. I am also thankful to the organizations, associations, companies, and stakeholders from different sectors whose valuable partnerships make our offerings much more robust, efficient and meaningful.”