In 1994, a small group of community activists and consumer/survivors, led by DianaCapponi, came together to develop employment opportunities for psychiatric survivorsand to create a movement that would advocate for increased work opportunities for thiscommunity.
Since that time, much has changed: the consumer/survivor movement has grown, peerworkers are being employed in many mental health agencies across the province, recoveryhas become an accepted concept, and the importance of employment has been widelyrecognized as a key component of the recovery process.” A Home, A Job and a Friend”
Working for Change, (which started out as the Ontario Council of Alternative Businesses)has a rich history which has grown and changed considerably over the past two decades.While the original vision for OCAB was that it would assist in the development of newbusinesses for consumer/survivors across Ontario that focus has now shifted (for a varietyof reasons including funding opportunities) to the development of alternativebusinesses/social enterprises in Toronto and the creation of leadership training programs.
Over the years, as the businesses developed and flourished, it became evident to us thatsome people wanted more than work opportunities; they also wanted the chance toparticipate in arenas where they could influence public policy, change their world and workon social justice issues. Voices from the Street, a leadership-training program, wasdeveloped in 2005 and from it the Speakers Bureau emerged. In 2011, we added WomenSpeak Out adding a much needed gender perspective. For our folks; people with a livedexperience are a critical component of the Peer, CSI movement.
Our vision for our work at Working for Change remains the same; we continue to learnfrom our history while creating new opportunities and choice grounded in the principles ofthe Consumer/ Survivor/Peer movement. Not only will our programs and social enterprisesbe successful but also we can actually start to envision a better place for our folks.
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