A local organization that provides support and services to homeless people in Edmonton has started up a new social enterprise in hopes of giving young adults some much-needed work experience.
Boyle Street Community Services has launched Boyle Street Moving Co., which employs its clients to help them develop job skills and gain experience in the work force.
“We employ them, we give them the training that they need to do the job safely, then we hope to create opportunities for them to move on to even bigger and better things with time,” Damien Lachat, the youth entrepreneurship coordinator at Boyle Street, said.
“For many individuals, poverty and homelessness can be a cycle. If you don’t have an address, it’s hard to get anybody to hire you or receive mail or any of the basic things that we take for granted,” Lachat said.
All of the money the company makes goes right back into Boyle Street Community Services, to continue providing services such as daily meals, mental health support and harm-reduction support for people dealing with addictions.
While there is some stigma around employing vulnerable youth, Lachat said so far, everyone they’ve worked with has been understanding of the goal they’re trying to achieve which is empowering people through employment.
“So far, people have been pretty receptive. The clients that we have gotten really, I think, do understand and do get it.”
Since the company started taking jobs in February, it’s moved about 50 households. There are currently three people working for the moving company, including 25-year-old Evan, who moved to Edmonton from Medicine Hat about five years ago to get away from family violence.
“I come from a bit of a broken home. My mom’s an alcoholic and my stepdad, he’s a little lazy… There was quite a bit of violence when I was growing up,” said Evan, who asked his last name not be published.
“I just got sick and tired of it. I got sick and tired of being in that position… I wanted to make a change for myself, I wanted to be around something more positive so I decided to leave and come down here to Edmonton.”
Since moving to Edmonton, Evan has been able to focus on himself. He said he’s way better off and feels a sense of accomplishment working for Boyle Street Moving Co.
“I’m basically here to acquire new skills, put job skills on my resume, get as many hours as I possibly can because I need hours and basically be a good, productive employee,” he said.
“I believe that there is opportunity,” he continued. “It’s an opportunity for me and I just want to be able to move forward with the company and I see that being possible.”
Lachat said that’s exactly the mentality they hope to instil in everyone who works for Boyle Street Moving Co.
“I think so far, it’s been a really positive reaction. Our youth have been pretty eager to get involved and be engaged. Sometimes even having ideas of their own of how we can grow the company.”
For more information on the moving service, head to Boyle Street Community Service’s website.