Twenty-eight years after it was founded, Back in Motion continues to evolve its services to meet the needs of its clients - something that is brought into focus even more in September, B.C.’s Disability Employment Month.
“Initially, Back In Motion’s role was to give those injured at work a way back to employment through occupational and physical therapy,” says Lonnie Belfer, Program Manager at Back in Motion.
“The company has grown over the years and followed two distinctive paths - the rehab and healthcare side, and the employment services side.
“A pivotal moment occurred when Back in Motion started delivering a program for immigrants, which evolved into Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants, a program that is still offered,” he adds.
Back in Motion became more invested in employment services when it started to deliver WorkBC services - a provincially funded work program.
“At the end of that contract, Back in Motion decided to go back to basics and re-evaluate its strengths and what it offered the community and decided to remain true its roots and focus on people with disabilities and the immigrant population,” Belfer says.
For the past two years, part of that has been offering a skills training for an employment program for those facing multiple barriers at work, including disabilities and other barriers, such as unstable housing, low self-esteem, or recovery from addictions.
Two programs that grew during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic were warehouse skills training for those with a disability, and cyber security, aimed at immigrant workers
Both areas have become high demand, Belfer says.
“We continue to evolve and adjust our programming to the needs of the population and employers.”
And along the way, there have been many success stories.
“We’ve had people who were unemployed for many years move into sustainable employment, both part-time and full-time,” Belfer says, adding the recent Warehouse Abilities Program cohort included a majority of members with intellectual disabilities or neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism.
“Many of them had either no or limited work experience and were not having success finding jobs. And after completing our 11-week training, several managed to secure employment and told us their experience in the program emulated their workplace environment and had prepared them well.”
Specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, Back in Motion also adapted to deliver its services.
“We have had quite a number of people come through who have experienced high levels of anxiety and depression that may not have been diagnosed before, but have been heightened by the pandemic,” Belfer says, adding the Skills For Life Program was adapted to become a virtual service which allowed users to work through their situation gradually from the security of their home and into employment.
“In some cases, these individuals were not able to leave their homes, so this was a way to help in a manner we never could previously,” Belfer adds.
For more information about Back in Motion and how it can help, visit their website at backinmotion.com.