Supportive Employment Program

Sex workers wishing to seek mainstream employment have limited opportunities and face high barriers. The goal of the Supportive Employment Program (SEP) is to reduce these barriers by providing opportunities to develop the skills, experience and confidence required for women seeking to reduce their reliance on sex work and/or to transition out of sex work altogether if that is their goal. 

In 2020, the SEP doubled its capacity and created 41 new positions. This includes the new SEP Shift Leads, who work closely with WISH’s 24/7 emergency shelter. The new positions also include WISH’s first-ever Peer Witnessing Program, designed to protect against, and reverse, accidental overdoses. This has become a critical health and safety response while employing the rich expertise of peers. 

“You all really believed in me. Two years ago, I never thought I’d be working here and now I am. I didn’t know if you all really meant it. It’s true and I can’t believe it – it’s amazing.”
– Supportive Employment Participant

Just as monumental has been the achievement of true wage parity and equity for peers. A long-standing goal of WISH’s was to bring the peer wages up to a fair and equitable level. 

The impact of the program echoes our mission statement as an organization; one of creating access to opportunities that uphold the safety, autonomy and self-determination of peers and participants.  

“I feel like I now have the confidence to achieve.”
– Supportive Employment Participant

Generously funded by:
Province of BC (Gaming)
Vancouver Coastal Health
The Sprott Foundation
Vancity Community Foundation
Vancouver Foundation
Wickerson Foundation

What's Happening

Peer Volunteer Program (PVP):

o Lowest barrier program
o Heavy focus on preemployment skills
o Program capacity: 20


o Medium barrier program 
o Employment geared towards harm reduction 
o Program capacity: 25

Peer Safety program (PSP):

o  Medium barrier program 
o  Heavy focus on gaining frontline support skills 
o  Program capacity: 25


o  Intermediate barrier program 
o  Responsible for supervising all peer programs 
o  Program capacity: 5

Program Partners:

  • East Vanity Parlour
  • EMBERS Staffing Solutions
  • Eastside Works
  • 312 Main
  • Green Event Services
  • Vancouver Public Library
  • Family Services of Greater Vancouver