Victoria non-profit organizations are preparing to implement services for people living in encampments after receiving more than $100,000 from the City of Victoria.
In November the city received $6.5 million from the federal and provincial governments, and created a grant program to help meet the needs of people living outdoors.
The Umbrella Society for Addictions and Mental Health partnered with the Red Cedar Cafe after receiving $22,400 to deliver community care services and meals starting Dec. 21. During the pandemic, the society has been working with people living in the Comfort Inn and Travelodge, both being used as temporary shelters.
“We built all these relationships with so many people in there,” said Sharlene Law, executive director of the Umbrella Society. “We realized how many people actually were interested in recovery and making changes around their substance use issues.”
The organization will bring hot breakfasts to the encampments every morning while conducting welfare checks. If anyone indicates they need additional services, members of the team will return after completing the breakfast drop off.
Additionally, connections with Island Health will allow the Umbrella team to call in nurses or social workers on an as-needed basis.
Poverty, mental health and addictions are complex and often inter-connected issues, Law said, but access to Island Health nurses, a substance use follow up team and a new team of Indigenous outreach workers, along with the daily wellness checks, will provide a number of opportunities for people to reach out.
“And if they don’t, they don’t. But they’ll still get the hot meal and the free conversation. And they’ll know that you’re there.”
The James Bay United Church received $6,500 from the city to install a community tent – replacing a care tent that had been set up and managed by Beacon Hill Park residents and was removed by bylaw officers with supervision from Victoria police in November.
Gordon Miller, director of communication for the church, says people who live in the park will be part of the tent’s operation.
The Salvation Army also received $85,520 that will go toward a mobile shower trailer that will circulate to various shelter locations five days per week.