United Way’s invaluable social safety net
Why awareness matters.
When I tell people I’m the Coordinator of Labour Programs with United Way, they are not entirely sure what I do. I explain part of my job is to help unions and employers talk to their workers about difficult subjects like family violence.
It is surprising how many employers are uncomfortable to bring the subject up with an employee because of their lack of awareness about family violence. When these discussions need to happen it often leads to disciplinary action because of work absences.
But because of the trusted partnership United Way has established with labour unions and other employers, United Way is able to run programs that teach people how to interact with workers who may be experiencing violence at home. We teach how to ask questions and direct workers to community resources through United Way’s social safety net. Resources like United Way-funded programs at A Safe Place in Sherwood Park and Today Family Violence Help Centre which offer wrap-around care to vulnerable workers and their families.
United Way is also involved in another innovative program called Cut it Out. We teach stylists at salons and academies how to recognize domestic violence and how they can help. One salon owner told us that one of her clients divulged she was too afraid to go home. Thankfully, this owner knew what to do because of the training provided and was able to direct her client to resources that would help keep her safe.
By teaching employers and unions how to recognize family violence and how to be sensitive to the various factors that either led to the situation or is keeping the worker in that situation, the worker will be better empowered to access available help and make a positive decision.
I believe domestic violence can be stopped. Awareness through education is the key. And education empowers us all.
Coordinator of Labour Programs