“COVID cut me off from community,” says Hayley. “All the regular resources for computer and job searching help were closed due to COVID. All the avenues that I used for help to access the use of a computer were no longer there.”
Hayley lives with a thyroid condition. She experiences muscle weakness, stiffness, and fatigue.
She lives alone and had no family to turn to. She had used her friends’ help as much as they were able. Her neighbour, who has elderly parents, couldn’t risk having her over to help with resumes or emails.
“I felt stranded and alone and scared. People throw around the word isolated when talking about COVID. I was truly isolated and Neil Squire was a lifeline to me.”
Finding Neil Squire
Hayley was looking for work and needed to learn to use a computer to job-hunt. She joined the Working Together program with Central Regional Coordinator Cheryl Colmer.
Hayley was also able to benefit from Neil Squire’s Solutions program in Atlantic Canada for an assistive technology and ergonomics assessment. After this, she received a laptop, ergonomic mouse, and laptop tray through the Digital Jumpstart program.
“Once a week phone calls with Cheryl gave me a sense of hope,” says Hayley. “It was a lifeline to get a plan in place to search for work while stuck at home.
“I don’t feel as alone, knowing that Cheryl is a phone call away, for help with resume preparation, online job hunting, interview practice and communication etiquette. The continued communication gives me a sense of social, community connection.”
In March, Hayley landed a job as a Home Care Aide with a home care company in Ottawa. She is preparing meals, cleaning, and also providing companionship, a morale boost, medication, and appointment reminders for a senior.
Since Hayley uses Para Transpo (opens in a new window) (accessible public transit), her employer makes sure to give her plenty of time before assigning shifts, so she can book her ride in advance.
“Not only did I not own a computer, I didn’t know how to use one and Neil Squire has met both of those needs,” she explains. “This will help me continue to be valuable at my current job, because I should be able to book medical appointments and help my clients get on virtual medical meetings and virtual calls with family and friends.”
As for her plans for the future, Hayley wants to sharpen her computer skills. She has started weekly tutoring with Neil Squire staff in British Columbia. She wants to learn how to send attachments in an email, create documents in Word (opens in a new window), and save files.
She adds, “I was so appreciative to be eligible for assistance from Neil Squire’s Working Together and Digital Jumpstart programs. The ergonomic considerations for working on solutions for my physical disabilities was like I was worth something and I felt spoiled. My eyes are welling up realizing how much help I have received and continue to receive from Neil Squire.
“This is my thank you letter: Thank you for helping me go from the depths of despair in feeling isolated to being lifted up by this program and to have made a friend, then having been doing so well to share my journey and now I have a renewed sense of community and my connection has survived COVID.
“My life has improved by working with Neil Squire in so many ways.”
This project is funded by the government of Canada’s
Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities