For Working for Change Executive Director Anita Prasad, every time a customer comes to the new Out of This World Café (OTW) at 1051 Queen West they are not just supporting a new business, they are giving every employee who works there a pathway to hope.
“What sets us apart from every other business in the area is that we are a social enterprise run entirely by and for people with lived experience of mental health, addiction, trauma, including gender-based violence, homelessness and refugee experiences,” says Prasad. “And we don’t just employ survivors. From the board level to the front line staff, there is an organizational mandate that every person we hire has lived experience. Many of our employees began as patients of CAMH or participants of our programs and are now in key leadership positions in our organization.”
CAMH was already unique among hospitals in Canada in that all of its retail food services on hospital grounds are staffed exclusively by people with lived experience of mental illness including addiction. For more than 15 years, CAMH has partnered with Working for Change, a non-profit organization that operates several social enterprises in Toronto. By providing Working for Change with subsidized and stable rent at the new OTW Queen Street location, CAMH helps them weather the ups and downs of the retail food business.