Nikki McGinn arranged the new Made By Hand signage in the window of the Community Inclusion Centre last week

Project helps people overcome barriers

Trail’s Community Inclusion Centre broadens services and opportunities

An inclusive community is free from discrimination and values everyone’s right to contribute.

Community inclusion for persons who face challenges in finding stable work and housing is the nexus behind a diverse project currently underway in downtown Trail.

The Community Inclusion Centre (CIC), located at 1458 Bay Avenue, will provide a hub for those dealing with barriers such as chronic poverty, mental health and homelessness, by housing various services and resources all under one roof.

The vision to create a stronger and more encompassing community grew at the Career Development Services (CDS) current location, further south on Bay Ave.,  along with the number clients, now at 200, and its 50 support staff workers.

CDS, under the umbrella of Trail Association for Community Living (TACL) developed the idea of an inclusive centre to focus on providing greater community access of resources to help those individuals further participate in all aspects of social, cultural and economic life in Greater Trail.

“The project has been in the works for quite some time due to the constant expanding need for the services of CDS,” explained Nikki McGinn, a support worker and social work student, participating in the CIC project for her final practicum. “The community access project provides a year round facility for those with barriers,” she said. “To learn skills they need to live with dignity as part of the community.”

The project is designed in three stages, the first being relocation of CDS’s popular Made By Hand retail shop into the new inclusive site.

The wood shop’s products are built in East Trail by the West Kootenay Youth and Adult Work Shop, then dropped off at Made by Hand to be painted or enhanced by a dedicated core of volunteers before the final piece is sold in the retail space.

“The wood store has not been positioned well for the retail market,” said McGinn.

“We would like to expand the product range to include other hand made items produced by other CDS and TACL clients as well as other participating agencies that have expressed interest in the future facilities that will be developed.”

McGinn and company have been busy painting and scrubbing the new location so Made by Hand can reopen in the next few weeks and the second stage of development, a group and individual learning centre, can begin.

The setting will be apartment-like and equipped with kitchen, laundry and wheel chair accessible amenities, noted McGinn, adding that the facility will be available for CDS workers and other agencies to bring individuals or groups to meet for work on life and peer relation skills.

“These ‘soft’ skills are often the difference between being able to obtain and or maintain stable employment in the community,” she said.

During the second stage of the CIC project, a pottery studio will be established in the site’s basement by CDS in partnership with a local potter who is also an outreach worker.

The studio is meant to provide somatic sensory therapeutic service for all age groups, in particular those living with affects of autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and attachment disorders.

“This aspect of the extension of services is an incubation of a small business by potter Mary-Ann Kelly,” explained McGinn. “Her goal is to establish an internet market for potted products.”

The business would then support the creation of a small packing and shipping social enterprise that would employ CDS clients while they learn skills and gain experience, she added.

The final stage of CIC development is the Client and Professional Development Centre (CPDC).

Two offices will house outreach workers and other social service workers from CDS and other agencies to access a comfortable private space to meet with clients.

“It will also be equipped with state-of-the art client and professional training/boardroom to enable access to teleconferencing technology as well as a ‘Smart Board” (interactive projection screen for video and power point applications).”

CDS’s current offices will remain in use, but building up the Community Inclusion Centre is an ambitious endeavour and costly, with funding usually a 50/50 arrangement between the agency and other contributors.

During the next phase of development a refrigerator and electric stove is needed, said McGinn, and donations from businesses and individuals are welcome and appreciated.

“Every dollar that comes from the local community means greater services to local clients directly or indirectly,” she continued. “Which contributes to a more inclusive, more productive and safer community for all Trail residents.”

Additionally, the success of “Getting to Home,” a CDS and Skills Centre program that houses the homeless, has reduced the number of individuals requiring temporary shelter during the winter months. Because shelter use is very low, two or three per month for short periods of time, CIC plans include relocating the La Nina Extreme Weather Shelter from the basement of the Trail United Church to its Bay Avenue centre.

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