In response to Guelph Today's Families upset as ARC Industries adult group day program ends permanently
The following letter was written in response to Guelph Today's article, Families upset as ARC Industries adult group day program ends permanently.
October 20, 2020
Dear people we support, your families, and our community,
Last week, members of our community reached out to Guelph Today to share their concerns about a change to one of Community Living Guelph Wellington’s (CLGW) many services.
The article may have given the impression that CLGW’s Day Services were closing. This is not the case.
However, CLGW Day Services are, and have been, changing.
We are a not-for-profit organization that supports more than 500 adults living with a disability, who live in Guelph and Wellington County. We help people connect for work and volunteering, places to live, and recreation within our cities and towns. Our services include residential support, employment support, community support, as well as support with everyday living.
Through our 65-year history, we’ve seen a lot of change.
Five years ago, the government mandated the closure of sheltered workshops – segregated workplaces, often run by a disability services organization, where people with disabilities provided labour for cents per hour. The Province’s decision was driven by a petition from families across Ontario. Why? Because those families and the government believe that every person living in our communities deserves equal access, equal pay, and equal rights.
So do we.
Our role in the lives of the people we support is to believe in their every capability regardless of the challenges they may face.
Pre-dating the closure of the sheltered workshop, we began working with the people we support and their families to transition Day Services towards a community-based approach.
We believe that our communities, whether it’s Guelph or Wellington County, can be inclusive and accessible to every person who lives within them.
Our 2020-23 Strategic Plan took this belief one step further, confirming that CLGW’s Day Services will only be inclusive and community-based going forward.
We recognize that this is a significant change for some people. Change is hard, and we’re here to provide support through this transition. For some, this change feels abrupt because they were still coming to our Day Services buildings to meet up with friends, or to participate in classes and activities. Sometimes, they would come to the building just to go back out to work, to volunteer, or to go to other activities that would fill their day. Of course though, COVID-19 forced the abrupt suspension of those services.
When it’s safe to do so, CLGW will ensure these activities happen in places and spaces that are inclusive to everyone.
Our Strategic Plan did not include details explaining what Day Services would look like as an inclusive and community-based service. That is because it’s important for us to deliver tailor-made support that is right for that specific person. To do so, we have to sit and plan with each person and the people who matter most to them.
We have heard from a number of the people that our communication around our strategic plan fell short for you. Whether you felt we didn’t communicate enough, that we missed you, or you felt unheard, we are truly sorry.
We are going to change that, starting now.
To begin, we are hosting a virtual town hall on October 27th, specifically for those in Day Services. If you have not received notice of how to join this virtual town hall, including joining online or by phone, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the next several weeks, we will be reaching out to every person supported in Day Services, and their primary contacts, to listen to their concerns and to determine how we can shape their support going forward. If someone we support enjoys swimming, we’ll be supporting them to attend a local pool for an Aquafit class with as much or as little support as they need. If someone we support wants to meet up with friends to have lunch, we’ll support them to gather at a restaurant, at someone’s house, or at a park for a picnic. They may want to cook a meal in their home, before meeting up with their friends. We will support them through that too.
For some families, there’s a very real concern about respite and safety. We’re here to plan for that as well. We’ve built tremendous partnerships with other local service providers. We will help you to access their services as needed.
With respect to any of our Day Services buildings across Wellington County, including the ARC Industries building in Guelph, with consultation from our respective communities, we will explore which community organizations and businesses, as well as which resources we want in those buildings for everyone in our community to enjoy.
Together, we can make Guelph and Wellington County an even more inclusive and accessible place to live for everyone.