Outreach counsellors help people achieve goals

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Knowledge helps make community connections
Wednesday October 5, 2011 — Deb Bartlett

Starting with the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) in the day program helped lay a foundation that has served Ilona Koschiecha well in her outreach counsellor position.

When she began working for BACI seven years ago, she supported individuals by introducing them to recreational opportunities in the community and helping them navigate public transportation.

Now that she’s working in outreach, her knowledge of the community is helping her serve people even better.

“We work on person-centred goals with people,” says Ilona. “We are actually with them out in the community, helping them achieve those goals.”

When referrals come in to BACI, the person seeking support is matched to a counsellor, and as a team, they work on specific goals, she says.

“Mostly, we work on life skills, and we connect people in the community. We help them build relationships,” she says. “Some relationships that could lead to friendships.”

Most people on her caseload are young adults who have finished high school and are looking for assistance with life skills.

For example, Ilona says she helps people with housing applications, college applications and assisting with assessments and interviews at college. “Once they got into college, I would be supporting them at meetings,” she says.

Ilona also helps people make medical appointments and transportation arrangements, and to get disability status, which guarantees income and benefits, like medical coverage and bus passes.

Ilona also helps people with bus training, an area in which she’s experienced much success.

She has helped train people to use public transit to school, jobs, volunteer positions “or in their community, so they can get confidence and independence.”

Often, people have never been told how to get on the bus, or how to get to the library or grocery story or community centre “where they could be taking some classes, or participating in some recreational activities. Basically, helping them to be more independent in their community.”

If you would like to comment on this story, or share how person-centred planning has affected you, contact Deb at 1-800-294-0051, or e-mail deb(at)axiomnews.ca.

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