Causeway Work Centre transforms lives and fuels community economic development in the Ottawa region through an integrated network of innovative training and employment programs, one-on-one support, cross-sector partnerships and by creating socially minded businesses.
Causeway began in 1977 as an organization focused on assisting people with mental health issues find employment. Over the years, Causeway has expanded its activities and impact through an ongoing commitment to innovation. Through this commitment, Causeway has been able to support a broader spectrum of disadvantaged people and pilot new ventures that address community needs, through a network of services.
Causeway’s integrated network of services include:
- Four social businesses
- A program designed to stimulate employment-related social enterprises in the region
- Service provision to the Centre for Innovative Social Enterprise Development
- A peer-mentorship program to assist persons with a disability transition from social assistance into paid employment
- A program designed to help individuals explore self-employment
- A financial literacy training program
- Two job development & job coaching programs
- A pre-employment training program for youth suffering from a mental illness
- A supervised, community group employment business
- A micro financing/mentorship program (Rise Asset Development)
- A fully equipped gym and nutrition-planning program.
In total Causeway operates 15 separate employment-related programs & services for men and women living with mental illness and addictions. Causeway reduces stigma by focusing on the economic productivity of persons living with the challenge of mental illness or addictions thereby adding another dimension to the story of mental illness– that of productivity, economic independence and community contribution.
Some individuals require a supported work environment in which to gain industry skills, work habits and work skills, and the paid employment experience required to transition into community based, or self-employment. Causeway’s four social businesses offer this.
Causeway’s social businesses are structured to provide substantive training and paid work experience to clients in a workplace of good practice, enabling them to move on to other employment opportunities in the community when they are ready. Known as the “Step in, Step Up & Step Out” Model, Causeway’s social enterprises are focused on identifying the skills required for each individual to move into community-based employment. A time frame and individualized goals are set, the individual is supported to achieve his/her identified goals and within a set time frame Causeway assists the individual transition into mainstream employment in their chosen industry. These social enterprise offer their employees the opportunity to develop a sense of ownership and to make a significant contribution to the growth of the business in which they are employed.
Four social enterprises operate under the umbrella of Causeway Work Centre:
- Krackers Katering – a food services & catering company which has been running for 16 years.
- Good Nature Groundskeeping – a landscaping business in its 6th year
- Cycle Salvation – a bicycle refurbishment & retail business, which provides employment & training in bike mechanics to people who are economically disadvantaged and diverts bikes destined for scrap and landfill sites. It is in its eighth year of operation
- RightBike – a cross-city bike sharing service, promoting sustainable, non-polluting transportation, healthy neighborhoods and strong communities while creating employment. It is in its third year of operation
Microfinancing and mentorship program:
A significant number of people living with mental illness and addictions want to explore self-employment, but lack the necessary resources. They can be assisted in realizing this goal.
Causeway operates Rise-Ottawa, the first implementing partner of Rise Asset Development; a joint initiative from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Rise provides micro financing and mentorship to men and women living with mental illness and addictions who are interested in pursuing self-employment. Rise works to empower these individuals as business owners by providing them with access to financing and business support. Rise-Ottawa works closely with Causeway’s CEO Project (Causeway’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity) which helps individuals to develop their own businesses.
Through the program, clients receive small loans and are provided business coaching and mentorship as well as mental health support. The term of the loan is up to three years, and the average loan size is $3000 to $5000 (CAD).