Most women and gender diverse folks involved in street-based sex work struggle to meet their basic needs and, as the result of considerable stigma, systemic poverty, abuse or trauma, often experience low self-esteem. Many participants who visit WISH don’t believe they can learn, or don’t feel safe to try new activities.
The WISH Learning Centre supports adult learners who are marginalized, offering a range of activities designed to develop communication skills, their ability to self-advocate and stabilize their lives.
Activities include learning computer skills, writing letters, journals and poetry, and engaging in arts and crafts both in groups and one-on-one. Participants can also access one-on-one tutoring to upgrade their education. Learning Centre participants also publish a monthly newsletter in which they include poetry, art work, commentary on recent events and announcements.
Participants also have the opportunity to go on annual outings to locations such as the Sunshine Coast, where they experience Northwest Coast culture and spend time in nature. These outings are cherished by participants and are rare opportunities for them to spend time outside of the DTES.
Many street-based sex workers use the Learning Centre as an alternative to using substances or participating in criminalized activities. Instead, participants can talk about their learning histories and rediscover how they like to learn.
“The more we learn, the more we are empowered to help ourselves. I have a better liking for myself, therefore I am willing to try other things that will further better myself so I can help other people as I have been helped.”
– Learning Centre Participant
Those wishing to find out more about the Learning Centre, and supporting vulnerable women and gender diverse folks in education, can read Literacy for Women on the Streets. Funding for this publication was provided by Capilano College and The National Literacy Secretariat.
Generously funded by:
BC Teachers’ Federation
ABC Life Literacy
Highlands United Church
Province of BC (Gaming)
Learning Centre with Lucy:
Learning Centre with Danielle:
Women’s Advisory Group Meetings in 2021:
October 18 (Thanksgiving on the 11th)
- Capilano University
- Vancouver Public Library
- Literacy Roundtable
- Carnegie Community Centre
- Vancouver Community College
- UMB Learning Exchange
- Eastside Works
- Work BC
- UBC Humanities, Writing, and Science 101 Programs
- ABC Canada
- Decoda Literacy Solutions of BC