HALIFAX – Carrie MacInnis and Liz Wilson have always had a passion for helping people in the most need. Last year, Wilson (an educator), and MacInnis (a social worker), were working with a non-profit organization teaching suicide intervention skills to vulnerable people.
Together they worked with current and former sex workers, incarcerated women, people experiencing homelessness, and other marginalized sections of society. But when their time with the non-profit came to an end, they wanted to keep offering suicide prevention skills to those who needed it most.
“We had an opportunity through our workplace to go and get trained and become trainers ourselves… and I think just through personal experiences that I’ve had, and Liz has had, it’s drawn us towards suicide prevention,” said MacInnis.
In September, the Halifax duo decided to start a business called Training with Care Facilitation Services, where they specialize in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Wilson and MacInnis decided that, for every 10 profitable workshops they complete, they will give away a free workshop to vulnerable people who may not be able to afford to pay for one.
“We call it ‘our commitment to community’,” stated Wilson.
For those who can afford to pay, Training With Care Facilitation Services offers the two-day workshop for $220 for individuals, but that price can be lower depending on group rates. Wilson and MacInnis believe there’s a demand for these types of services, now that there is more awareness surrounding mental illness and suicide.
“A lot of workplaces are moving towards more of a focus on mental health or mental illness. There’s more education and awareness around it now,” said MacInnis.
“A lot of the skills they learn through the workshop can be used in everyday life, whether it’s with family members, friends, or anyone they come in contact with.”
Wilson admits the workshop can be challenging. It consists of two eight-hour days and, given the subject matter, emotions can run high.
“It’s very challenging work…it’s important that everyone is very supportive through the process,” said Wilson.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in those two days and a lot of emotions to deal with because suicide is an emotionally charged topic for a lot of people. In the workshops we’ve done, most people have very personal, intimate experiences with suicide.”
So far, Wilson and MacInnis have done three workshops through Training With Care Facilitation Services, including one to a social work class at NSCC, and have three more lined up in the future. Right now, they are focusing on teaching the ASIST program, but plan to branch out with more health services over time.
For the time being, both women are keeping their full-time jobs while the business gets off the ground.
“Right now, we’re just trying to get our name out there, and we are open to doing more corporate or private training sessions,” said MacInnis.