Supportive Employment Program

The majority of women who access support at WISH rely on street-based sex work as their sole source of income, leaving them more vulnerable to physical and sexual violence.

Without alternative sources of financial support, sex-working women are often forced to take dangerous dates that they might otherwise avoid.

For women who wish to seek mainstream employment, opportunities are limited and barriers are high, ranging from having not held a mainstream job for years, to criminal records, to homelessness, to loss of confidence and continuously confronting stigma.

The Supportive Employment Program seeks 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 make a transition when ready.

“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

Participants begin by working as a volunteer for WISH in our Peer Volunteer Program and may later become employed with the Peer Safety Patrol program, experiencing regular working shifts, building relationships and gaining responsibility. They might then transition into the Mainstream Employment stream of the program in the pursuit of eventually securing mainstream employment outside of WISH.

Systemic barriers to employment remain but WISH works with women to find and access mainstream employment opportunities in their community, with more than 30 percent of women successfully moving to these new avenues.

“I feel like I now have the confidence to achieve.”

– Supportive Employment Participant

Generously funded by:
Province of BC (Gaming)
Vancouver Coastal Health
Face the World Foundation
Farmer Family Foundation
1988 Foundation
MAC Aids Fund
Leon Judah Blackmore Fund
The Sprott Foundation
Vancity Community Foundation
Vancouver Foundation
Wickerson Foundation


What's Happening

Peer Volunteer Program:

Maximum Capacity of 21 women

Shifts daily*, one woman per shift $10 cash (paid out weekly) for every shift:




*except for Wednesday-Sunday following cheque issue

PEer Safety Patrol, $13.85/hour:

Maximum Capacity of 15 women
Shifts Daily, 2 women per shift

Mainstream Employment Program:

No maximum capacity
$10 cash per hour for up to three months, plus return bus tickets and $10 cash for lunch per shift

Program Partners:

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