The End of Our OK2BME 30+ Grant, by Wash Silk
In the fall of 2016 we excitedly announced that the OK2BME program at KW Counselling Services, with the support of the KW Community Foundation, would be able to provide free counselling for LGBTQ+ community members over the age of 30+ and free public education for service providers on the topic of supporting LGBTQ+ adults. Unfortunately, at the end of September 2017 this project will come to an end.
Over the past year we have been honoured to provide services to the LGBTQ+ 30+ community and we would like to share some of the work we have done with you. We were able to provide free ongoing counselling to over 80 individuals!
One participated shared, “The OK2BME program is an invaluable resource to my journey. Having spent a significant number of years in confusion and denial about who I am, there are many thoughts and questions to work though. The value of a safe place and an understanding ear to explore these questions and discover constructive answers can not be overstated.”
Public Education Summary
We were also able to provide training to the public on supporting LGBTQ+ individuals. We trained 42 helping professionals and plan to train 60 more in September at our Aging with Pride 2.0 Conference. We hope that the grant will live on by helping other service providers be more culturally appropriate and open when working with LGBTQ+ individuals. When surveyed after our trainings, respondents told us that our training had helped to improve their competency in working with LGBTQ+ adults and that they had learned ways to increase inclusion and belonging and would work to reduce barriers to LGBTQ+ people in their workplaces.
One of the trainings we completed was for the staff at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Student Wellness Centre. They shared that they “appreciated the recent presentation by Washington Silk which highlighted the complexities of gender identity and sexuality, including identity development models. Staff learned about the unique needs of, and issues facing, LGB people, with a specific emphasis on Transgender or gender non-confirming individuals. This new learning and the recent research which was introduced was greatly appreciated by those in attendance.”
What Happens Next?
We will still be able to provide counselling services to the 30+ community with a fee for service model. KW Counselling Services offers a sliding fee scale in which counselling fees are based on your income and financial situation. We never turn anyone away based on inability to pay for counselling.
If you are a service provider interested in receiving training, please contact Washington Silk, OK2BME Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is our hope that these trainings will increase access to culturally appropriate services in safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people in Waterloo Region.
We would like to thank the KW Community Foundation for supporting us in this much needed project. KW Counselling Services is always looking for ways to improve and expand our OK2BME services to the community.