Many people rely on these agencies to find employment. Many employers are located in urban hubs like Belleville and Quinte West while a significant number of people in the region live in small rural towns with poor employment prospects.
“It is important to recognize a community both urban and rural and that we need to insure that there supports and services across that demographic,” said Judi Gilbert, executive director of United Way of Quinte.
“There are barriers that do prevent people from being able to reach the services that are Belleville centric.”
She said that is why the United Way funds rural programs that will work with individuals in isolated communities.
Amy Watkins, director of community resources, explained the assistance the United Way offers to these agencies increases the capacity and well being of the community as a whole.
“It is allowing people to get to work because they utilize Deseronto transit for transportation when they wouldn’t have that opportunity,” said Watkins.
One program tackling the challenge of helping people to stay employed in rural centres is Prince Edward Learning Centre’s Community Connects in Picton. The Learning Centre was one of two new agencies selected to receive funding from the United Way.
Kathy Kennedy, executive director of Picton’s Learning Centre, said transportation is a major hurdle to employment.
“A huge barrier to employment in Price Edward County is lack of transportation. If you don’t have a car and you don’t have the means to keep a car on the road it really effects access to employment,” said Kennedy.
A 2013 report by The County Community Foundation, Vital Signs, indicates 51 per cent of Prince Edward residents work outside the county.
Kennedy said the funding from the United Way will go a long way toward making a difference to those facing employment instability.
“It’s thrilling and it’s going to make a big difference in terms of the services we’re able to offer,” said Kennedy.
The Community Connects program will attempt to address local employment issues by helping people match skills to jobs that are in demand locally, said Kennedy.
She said, “We are going to help people stay who have signed up to complete their education and employment goals. What we are hoping to do is really work with people to reduce barriers.”
Check out the article in The Belleville Intelligencer.