Dave Allen, Owner, David Allen Computer Consultancy: When I was in my early thirties, I was diagnosed with having schizophrenia. In that time, I lost my business, I lost a good and dear friend, and ultimately, I lost my wife.

I just basically was functioning each day; you know, just wasn’t much of a life for me. And it’s difficult to retain any focus or have goals and such to do when you get schizophrenia. There are times when you’re gripped with such apathy, that even just living each day is very difficult.

I was invited down to a meeting with ODSP. And during that, they explained to me some of the other services that they offered — one of which was an employment service where either you could try and have a regular employment scheme, or the route that I chose was to be an entrepreneur.

There are other agencies that work with ODSP — in my case it’s Start Me Up Niagara — who provide specific, tailored support to help grow and build your business.

Jennifer Gorman, Employment Counsellor, Start Me Up Niagara: Dave came to us with an interest in self-employment. A big, big part of our support is just maintaining contact and talking about how things are going. You know, offering motivational support, offering problem-solving, accessing and advocating for him to be able to get everything that he needs to make it all work very smoothly and maintain the momentum to move forward in the business.

I think David’s incredible. I think he’s a wonderful example of how the program can work for individuals.

Dave: Initially, I was going to be doing some web projects, designing a site, putting it together. After the site’s up and running, it’s then my job to help promote the website online — essentially online marketing.

It’s been more successful than I thought, than I originally imagined. I’ve had quite a few clients, and each month, I’ve been getting more and more. And each one of them is really, really happy with the work I’ve done for them.

If I wasn’t doing this through ODSP, then my life would’ve remained the way it was. But this gave me an opportunity to work. It’s just the fact that I am able to do something.

And I feel happy that I’m able to reduce any financial burden on ODSP by working and earning more money. ODSP Employment Services are really good. I think that if someone were to try them out, get help and support and move forward with it, I think they would be happy.