LANGLEY, B.C.- First West Credit Union is committed to fostering spaces of belonging for members, employees and communities. That is why they wanted to ensure their branches were welcoming, inclusive and accessible for everyone, regardless of individuals’ unique abilities.
“With one in five Canadians having a disability, it was important for us to meet the accessibility needs of all of our members,” says First West’s Chief People and Culture Officer, Liz Bailey-Connor.
In late 2017, First West Credit Union worked with the Rick Hansen Foundation to have nine of its locations rated using Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) to ensure they had a better understanding of how to best serve everyone in the local communities and cultivate environments of belonging for all employees. All nine buildings achieved RHF Accessibility Certification, including its Cloverdale, Tsawwassen, Kamloops, and Duncan branches.
“Our work with the Rick Hansen Foundation was an important opportunity for us to learn about how we could improve our accessibility to better serve our communities, but little did we realize that we learned so much more than where to add automatic door openers or ramps,” says Bailey-Connor.
“It really opened our eyes and made us see our built environments in a new way–that it’s a journey that will require us to re-evaluate and evolve over time to ensure we are creating spaces without barriers.”
“Congratulations to First West for your commitment to accessibility and inclusion, and for cultivating an environment where people of all abilities are welcome through your doors,” said Brad McCannell, Vice President of Access and Inclusion at the Rick Hansen Foundation. “By championing accessibility, First West has demonstrated strong leadership, in building a culture where everyone can participate and experience a sense of belonging.”
Thanks to support from the BC Government, organizations who received an RHFAC rating prior to March 31, 2019, were eligible to apply for funding of up to $20,000 through the RHF BC Accessibility Grants program. First West was awarded funding through this program totaling nearly $25,000 to implement accessibility upgrades in three of its locations.
“Because giving back is an integral part of who we are at First West, we decided to donate the equivalent amount to three local organizations in our trade areas to help them continue their amazing work in creating spaces of belonging in their communities,” says Bailey-Connor.
As a result, Semiahmoo House Society in the Envision Financial region, Pathways Kelowna in Valley First region and Clements Centre Society in Island Savings region, each received $8,333 dollars. First West donated an additional $25,000 to the Rick Hansen Foundation so they could continue the vital work they do improving accessibility in our province and beyond.
“The work with the Rick Hansen Foundation provided so much value to us as an organization and we want to support their mission of creating a world where everyone can go everywhere,” says Bailey-Connor.
For more on the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ program, please visit www.rickhansen.com/RHFAC