By David F. Rooney
It’s no secret that women who have been victimized and abused often suffer from levels of low self-esteem and poverty that can be, for someone who has never been in their shoes, hard to imagine.
But that certainly doesn’t mean they can’t climb out of that dark and lonely space. With the help of the Bridges for Women organization they can, and do, just that and more — rebuilding their lives and careers. .
“We really help women overcome the impact of abuse and sexual assault,” says Jenny Holder, Bridges for Women’s employment program manager. “One of the major things they are affected by is a loss of self-esteem and confidence. Through our programs they can reclaim their lives and become economically stable.”
It does this, she said, by “helping women break the cycle of abuse and trauma through education and employment training.” It offers counselling, coaching, online courses, career exploration, skills development, mentoring and other valuable resources.
Founded in Victoria by four women, the 28-year-old organization draws on its extensive knowledge of the impacts of abuse on employability, to provide education, training and consulting to community agencies, employers and government.
Bridges for Women also works with Revelstoke’s WorkBC program to offer a range of online programs that can help them prepare to become employable.
“We have a formal partnership with the Bridges for Women program where we refer vulnerable clients who may not yet be ready to participate in our face-to-face programs,” said Otti Brown, manager of WorkBC’s Revelstoke office. “This partnership has been in place since April 2012. Some of the programming is similar to ours with the end goal being labour market or community attachment. Our team works collaboratively with the Bridges team using an integrated case management approach whereby the client can access both services to the degree it is appropriate for them. This certainly helps to ensure a higher likelihood of success.”
Even though the program requires client to have been stable for a period of months, the Bridges program has been flexible in that regard so that anyone interested and willing has not been turned away, she said.
“We have had several women complete the program. It is a valuable partnership and a valuable additional service to be able offer within the community. Anyone who is interested should, of course, come into or call us at WorkBC.”
Bridges for Women was unwilling to put The Current in direct contact with one of its Revelstoke clients but it did forward a testimonial from one:
“I am a 72 year old single woman who needed some education upgrading. I heard about the Bridges for Women organization through the Work BC office here in Revelstoke.
“For over a year I have been connected with the counsellors of Bridges for Women in Victoria, online and by telephone. I cannot express how much this connection has helped me, particularly to feel empowered, upgrade my education and help me to stand on my own two feet, something I feel strongly about for women.
“The courses focused on self-image, self-worth, self-reliance, healthy relationship-building were extremely helpful to me; I was able to understand co-dependency and how it has affected the relationships in my life.
“The help I had to think about my skill sets and how I could use them in my search for meaningful possible part-time employment was also a very valuable experience.
“I am very grateful to have had this opportunity.”
Please click here for more information about Bridges for Women. You can also call them at 1-250-385-7410 or toll-free at 1-866-896-3356.
Please click here for information about WorkBC’s Revelstoke office. You can also drop by their office at 117 Campbell Avenue or call them at 250-814-0244.