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Robyn Williams, a trained potter, molds mugs on the JustPotters pottery wheel.

Low-barrier employment in Vancouver

JustWork Economic Initiative is a non-profit social enterprise, based out of the basement of Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in East…

By Daniel Hallen , in City , on November 30, 2009

Robyn Williams, a trained potter, molds mugs on the JustPotters pottery wheel.
Robyn Williams, a trained potter, molds mugs on the JustPotters pottery wheel.

JustWork Economic Initiative is a non-profit social enterprise, based out of the basement of Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in East Vancouver.

Their barriers to employment are low – they have to be sober on the job, but not necessarily beforehand. The result of this strategy is staffing can be complicated.

Running a business is difficult if your employees do not come to work reliably.

JustWork also aims to employ people with physical disabilities, mental disabilities and the impoverished, in addition to those struggling with addiction.

JustWork has four branches:

  • JustPotters gives employees access to a full pottery studio, built into a former closet, and training by experienced potters.  Products are then sold through an online marketplace.
  • JustGarden is a landscaping service, offering both design and manual labour.
  • JustCatering offers catering services for private functions, business lunches, or small parties.  Employees receive job training by professional chefs.
  • JustRepairs offers basic handiwork to more extensive services such as roof repairs, and small renovations, and all projects are supervised by an experienced, licensed contractor.

Potluck Café and Catering operates in the Downtown Eastside, and employs dozens of people with barriers to employment through its integrated food services and life-skills training and employment program.

Potluck offers employment support throughout the period employees are working there.  Their catering service has the capacity to serve larger groups.

It also offers a Resident Meal Program, which serves thousands of meals annually for free to residents of the downtown eastside suffering from physical, mental, and addiction issues.

Potluck also offers a program to instruct residents how to cook for themselves, and about nutritional values.

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