REES: Working towards a more inclusive and productive community by supporting people of all abilities

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Condensed from a presentation made by Ajibola Akindipe, Intake Counsellor, REES

Everyone benefits when each member of the community is given the opportunity to contribute and grow using their skills and talents. People of different ages, demographics, as well as abilities, want to be represented equally in the labour force and should be accommodated with care and respect. For 30 years now, this has been the mantra of Reaching E-Quality Employment Services (REES). REES has built a strong reputation for advocating for people with physical disabilities and health conditions, helping them have worthwhile and meaningful jobs in Winnipeg. One of REES’s intake counsellors, Ajibola Akindipe visited English Online recently to tell us about their services to the community:

English Online (EO): What is REES and what services do you offer?
REES is a non-profit organization that helps individuals with physical disabilities and/or health conditions. A health condition could be a variety of things. It can be severe allergies, migraines, epilepsy or seizures, Multiple Sclerosis, and many other conditions. We offer services such as employment counselling, resume and cover letter development as well as employability skills workshops that help them obtain meaningful employment.

REES is a participant-centred organization offering tailored training and diverse employment services. This means that REES takes into account the unique needs of each participant to help them more efficiently. For example, through the REES Deaf and hard of hearing program, REES provides interpreters to go with that person, at no cost, for the purpose of an interview or on-the-job training. REES always assures participants that they are not alone and that we are here to support them.

REES doesn’t work alone. We constantly look for organizations and employers who understand the benefits of hiring people with physical disabilities and health conditions. With this collaboration, REES is able to achieve so much more and yield rewards for the whole community. REES takes pride in providing information about equitable and respectful workplace practices that contribute to the independence of the people we serve. REES always looks for more organizations to collaborate with because in bringing together each of our areas of expertise, we help get our clients closer to being employed.

EO: What other services do you offer?
We have been talking about the Employment Assistance Services (EAS) where we help our clients not only to get a job, but keep the job as well. I spoke briefly about our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services which are a full range of services from resume development, ASL interpretation, work placement to ongoing employment support and monitoring. Additionally, we have the Employment Assistance Services for the Youth (EASY) which is for clients ages 17-29. Aside from helping young people with their transition into employment, we also help them acquire important life skills. We teach them about money management tools and techniques, their tenant rights and how to become a responsible tenant. (You can learn more details about these programs here: Programs and services for jobseekers)

Sphere Quebec/REES video

EO: Does REES provide assistance to employers as well?
Yes, we can help any employer who is taking the first step towards inclusivity and is looking to have a diverse workforce. We have several programs such as the REES Hiring Incentive Project (RHIP) which helps employers in hiring qualified people with physical disabilities and/or health conditions. This program is like an assessment and evaluation tool that helps them determine if the candidate is the right fit for the job at no cost to them. For a period of 80 hours, participants undergo job training and assessment with the employer. REES provides wages and Workers Compensation coverage as well as other supports throughout the internship. If the job performance is satisfactory, the employer hires the participant. We also have the REES Internship Training Program (RINT). RINT is similar to the RHIP but it pays for a longer period of up to 12 weeks. Participants must not have been on EI within the last three to five years to be eligible. Meanwhile, our REES Co-op Project (RCP) provides an even longer internship period of up to six months (to learn more about REES’s programs for employers, go to: Programs and services for employers).

EO: Do you have a lot of clients who are newcomers?
I would have to check our statistics for concrete numbers but, yes we do receive participants who are newcomers. But I feel that there could be more of those who have been here for a while and those who have become citizens. I can’t speak for other nationalities, but I’m from Nigeria and in Africa, I feel that most people don’t like to say that they have certain conditions. So it’s like a cultural thing, it’s something that we need to address. These days we see more newcomer participants because we’re also working with Success Skills Centre. By the way, we accept those who have a language proficiency of at least CLB 5.

EO: How can an interested person get the help of REES?
Any interested participant can contact or visit REES. They will speak to an intake officer who will determine if they are eligible for our services. Basically, they are eligible if they have a health condition and/or a disability. We then assign them to an employment counsellor. We make sure that we match them with the right person who can help them. We don’t require a medical report but we usually talk to them at length during the intake process and then assess if they can benefit from our services. If not, we can refer them to our partners for more appropriate services or for additional services that can meet their needs.

For inquiries, you can send them online: Contact
Or call: 204-832-REES (7337)
REES is located at: 305-1200 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3G 0T5
Open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 4 pm

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