New Victoria survival guide full of usable resources for street community

Current and former homeless individuals offered up ideas for booklet

Hannah Rabinovitch

When Jerry M. was evicted from a recovery house in the early months of 2010, he had only three thoughts on his mind: food, shelter and storage.

“I had to then start tapping into where I was going to sleep for the day, where I could eat,” he said. “The only thing that was available were the places to get food and that was it. That’s all I could access easily.”

He’s since found his way back from surviving on the streets of Victoria, but many of those hard-learned lessons and services discovered through word-of-mouth are now being put to good use.

On Thursday, Jerry and his colleagues unveiled Victoria’s first Street Survival Guide, a single resource for the plethora of services available to the estimated 1,600 homeless people in the region.

“We put together a team of people who were homeless at some point or currently homeless, and they laid out the guide,” said Andrew Wynn-Williams, executive director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. “It has been designed by those on the street, for those on the street.”

The guide is the result of six months of weekly meetings between the 10-person team. It breaks down the availability of shelters, meal service and even hygienic services such as haircuts and foot care around the downtown core.

“Showers, Internet and access to phones are a little further along (in the guide),” Jerry said.

The guide also includes a walking map and operating hours for each service, as well as legal information on police authority and camping.

“If I had access to something like this, my life would have been a lot easier,” said David Small, a recovering heroin addict who is HIV positive. “So many people turned me away.”

Small said the province needs to provide better funding for mental health and addictions, but he’s glad the guide provides a list of current detox and other free health services.

The Street Survival Guide is modelled after similar guides created for residents in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side and in Kelowna, Wynn-Williams said.

But Victoria’s guide is the first to rely primarily on a panel of experts who have experienced homelessness firsthand.

“It’s been a very progressive journey,” Jerry said. “It was a hard thing, but I know the survival guide will make a lot of difference for people that are facing very similar issues more on a long-term basis.”

Funding for the guide was provided by the United Way of Greater Victoria.

The Coalition is a partnership of local service providers, non-profit organizations, all levels of government, and the business, post-secondary and faith communities. Its mission is to end homelessness in Greater Victoria by 2018.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Oak Bay High student selected for Canada Youth Olympic Team

Barbarians rugby player Lachlan Kratz heads to Las Vegas for Qualifiers

Man charged in suspected Greater Victoria bus assault

The Victoria Police Department has arrested a man for sexual assault aboard… Continue reading

Library’s French collection gets $15,000 boost

Provincial grant adds extra French-language materials to Greater Victoria Public Library collection

Cruise Industry Job Fair on Saturday

Nearly 900 jobs created by the industry

Celebrating the heroic dogs of Saanich past

Cedar Hill exhibit features great dogs of history

VIDEO: What you need to know today at the B.C. Games

B.C. Winter Games athletes work for gold in the last full day of competition

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

Snowboarding debuts at B.C. Games

Merren deBellefeuille was lone Vancouver Island (Zone 6) athlete in ladies’ snowboard cross

BCHL Today: Cowichan Caps play spoiler and Nanaimo wins 10th straight game

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Federal budget to unveil incentive for 5-week second parent leave: official

Goal behind the measure is to give parents more incentive to share child-rearing responsibilities

Notley says Alberta watching B.C. court bid closely, will get no free ride on it

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley ended the three-week ban on B.C. wine, calming the trade war

Trudeau ends troubled India trip in his comfort zone of hockey and youth

The players, 18-25, came to New Delhi from Ladakhi in northern India, as part of outreach program

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Kim Boutin named Canada’s flag bearer for closing ceremony

Two more medals for Canada, including the bronze in men’s hockey

Team Canada’s Dave Duncan apologizes after drunken joyride in Pyeongchang

Duncan, his wife Maja and Canadian technical coach William Raine detained by South Korean police

Most Read