With many people now adapting to a “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality can be especially stressful for those out of work and with no income.
And with financial relief arriving in the bank accounts of over 7 million Canadians, many are finding the application process difficult to navigate.
2nd Chance Employment Counselling wants to help.
The organization is available to offer support with both employment insurance (EI) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as well as support for job seekers looking for current employment opportunities.
“For those looking for work but don’t feel quite ready, that’s ok but maybe you feel that you need to plan ahead. We are here to help you do that so that you feel ready when the time comes,” says Chris Baginski-Hansen, executive director at 2nd Chance Employment Counselling (Wellington) Inc.
“And then there are those in need of work right now. We help them through this also so that they are able to work, but in a safe way.”
The big push, Baginski-Hansen says, is to get the word out.
“It was a big adjustment having to close our doors, move our services and staff on-line and work remotely. In total, there are 23 staff members and we all moved on a dime. It’s been a whirlwind. It happened so fast but now that everyone is connected, we want people to know that we are still here to help,” she said.
“The staff has really stepped up by putting together resources and guides on-line to make it easier for people to figure out the system and for many of them, it’s such a process especially when it comes to EI or CERB. Navigating the system can be very challenging.”
For 2nd Chance Employment Counselling, staying on top of all government announcements is vital in offering accurate and up to date information to clients.
“The other thing too, is that we have to continue to be conscientious of people wanting to connect and interact. So, we encourage people to call us and talk to us. We are here to listen,” Baginski-Hansen said.
“During this time, you might need that safe person, someone other than family to talk to. You try to be positive at home with your family, but it can be so difficult. We are here to listen to your fears, concerns and frustrations. We want to offer that support.”
The organization also provides job search assistance and advice on current and upcoming job opportunities.
“Some employers are desperate for people right now. Every day there is a new announcement and businesses are having to take extra safety measures with cleaning for example. So, this involves employing more people,” Baginski-Hansen says.
“There are many jobs out there right now related to healthcare within so many different departments. And with summer on the way, there will be many landscaping positions available as things start to open. But we also want to support employers and keep them informed as to how to best keep their employees safe.”
Since the pandemic hit, 2nd Chance offers virtual workshops on YouTube.
“When the kids are asleep, you can access the workshop then connect one-on-one with one of our counsellors. We have already offered a workshop on career decision making and we are currently working on a workshop about applying for jobs on-line,” Baginski-Hansen said.
“Sitting side by side with someone on a computer was easy but now, that’s impossible so we thought we would offer this. We are really trying to be creative because we recognize that time schedules are so out of whack for people right now. We want to be flexible.”
2nd Chance Employment Counselling, in partnership with Employment Ontario, the Ontario Government and the federal government, assists with professional employment services at no cost.
Since 1982, the non-profit organization, which was focused on youth employment programs and career planning, has now evolved to serve community members of all ages in Guelph and surrounding communities.
“Our youth programs are still very important to us. During the pandemic, we have made various platforms available to them like Facebook chats and phone/texting support. They might to be able to get a job right away, but it keeps them engaged until they are ready and right now, they are feeling connected and supported,” Baginski-Hansen said.
Community connection is critical for 2nd Chance Employment Counselling.
“Being on-line is great but that human connection is so important to us. It still is the key for most people," Baginski-Hansen says.
Anyone in need of assistance at 2nd Chance Employment Counselling can call (519) 823-2440, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit 2ndchance.ca.
“The big thing for us is to let people know we are here. We are fully open virtually and we want to make sure everyone is safe and supported during this time,” Baginski-Hansen says.
“We would love nothing more than to have that one-on-one time but it’s not possible right now. But what we can offer is a very friendly voice over the phone, ready to help.”