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Supporting Individuals Facing Barriers to Employment

Two males in hi-vis vests and masks conversing

Each year, the City of Kamloops issues a call for proposals for registered charities and non-profit agencies in our community to apply for Social and Community Development Grants, which are intended to fund special projects, operational costs, and/or capital expenditures that address specific current social problems and/or issues related to the City’s Social Plan or the Livability pillar of the Council Strategic Plan.

ASK Wellness Society received a $20,586 Social and Community Development Grant in 2022. This is how the grant was used:

Submitted by ASK Wellness Society

The ASK Wellness Society supports individuals facing barriers to employment by providing supportive, transitional work experience for those who are ready to enter or re-enter the workforce. This past year, transitional employment opportunities have included a mattress recycling plant, internal building cleaning, and community neighbourhood cleanup. In each setting, ASK Wellness has provided the necessary training and support for individuals struggling with barriers such as mental health, addictions, and other disabilities. Through this experience, the hope is that individuals find a renewed sense of dignity and purpose.

We work collaboratively with the City of Kamloops, Open Door Group, and other community service organizations to create meaningful, low-barrier employment opportunities that fit each individual and make a difference in our community.

The ASK Wellness Society Supportive Employment Initiative was supported by the City of Kamloops Social and Community Development Grant to help identify and create opportunities for meaningful work. The grant funds we received have allowed ASK Wellness to understand how non-profit organizations in Vancouver have created social enterprise programs and resulting employment positions and how to interpret this for our target population. This involved working with PURPPL, a local social enterprise accelerator, and having ASK Wellness senior management and the agency employment liaison travel to the Lower Mainland to tour and meet with senior leadership representatives from five different organizations.

Our hope is to expand and improve what is currently offered within ASK Wellness for low-barrier employment for those experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, substance misuse disorders, and/or living with diversabilities, among others. ASK Wellness did not have the internal structure and vocational skills to assess, place, and support individuals returning to the workplace, and conducting a feasibility study will be paramount to laying the groundwork for future low-barrier employment opportunities. This grant has given us the resources to engage ASK Wellness’s legal counsel and a specialist accounting firm to map out how we establish a legal entity to manage this community effort. The feasibility study will outline the anticipated framework for this social enterprise to function effectively and sustainably.

An individual who lives in our housing and was heading to treatment touched base to express their appreciation for the employment program: “I really enjoyed working with you. You're doing really good things with this program; everyone that takes part likes it. I liked being able to give back to the community”.

To learn more about this grant, visit To view stories on how other groups used their Social and Community Development Grants, visit