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Street Culture Collaborative mounts campaign for second year after ‘successful’ pilot

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
November 9th, 2017

Although the final word and figures on the pilot year of the Street Outreach project aren’t in until January, it has been qualified as a success to some and therefore worthy of funding for another year.

Representatives of the Street Culture Collaborative Working Group (SCCWG) spoke to city council recently and officially filed a request for a funding amount to help the project continue for a second year.

The group asked for $10,000 from the city, the same amount it received last year when the pilot project started up in October 2016.

While the SCCWG is requesting that the city support a second year of the Street Outreach project with the money, funding for the project has not been identified in the 2016-2020 Five Year Financial Plan.

But the SCCWG piloted a service delivery model that “had an enormous impact on this population and issue” and made a difference in addressing some of the immediate and longer term needs of the street culture, said Rona Park, Nelson Community Services project lead (on behalf of the Street Culture Collaborative Working Group), in a letter to the city.

“It is the intention of the Street Culture Collaborative Working Group to continue this project for at least one more year, if not a third, so that we can confirm and solidify our findings, identify clear trends in this population in Nelson, and begin to work on addressing some of the emerging needs such as temporary work options, drop-in centre, and self-advocacy and social inclusion supports,” said Park.

Preliminary reports are showing some successes, agreed Coun. Michael Dailly.

“People living on the street have been connected with services and are getting the help they need, some because of the hard work of the outreach team have taken a step to recovery that includes residential rehab,” he said.

“If even one person turns their life around and gets healthy because of street outreach then I would call the program a success.”

Before making any pronouncement on the fate of the project in terms of city funding, Dailly wanted to wait for the yea-end report due early in January 2018 to see just how effective the program has been and get the details on how many people have benefited.

As well, the fate of the cash request from the city won’t be known until next year. City staff will include the request in the 2018 budget deliberations in March after council deferred a decision until that time.

The SCCWG is still completing a comprehensive evaluation of the outcomes of the pilot year, including a set of recommendations. This report will be completed by Dec. 31 and will be presented to city council and the SCC board in early January 2018.

“At this time, however, we can safely say from our data collection that the street outreach team far exceeded its targeted numbers of clients and interventions,” said Park.

At the outset of the project, it was anticipated it would serve roughly 60 to 75 people, she noted.

“In fact, total number served during the pilot year is 179 unique individuals,” Park said.

It is expected that the year-end evaluation report will provide a full breakdown of the demographics of the street population and the types of interventions provided, along with satisfaction survey comments from the business community, social service providers and the street culture folks themselves.

The SCC’s three primary goals were:

  • to support and encourage people to transition to healthier lifestyles and away from the streets;
  • to support the business community in their dealings with this population and encourage a culture of mutual respect; and
  • identify gaps in the community that contribute to a less than caring, coordinated response to the needs of these people in the city.

The geographic scope of the project included downtown Nelson streets, Railtown area, Lakeside area, and the 7-11/Safeway area, said Park. The days, times and geographic scope were all subject to change as the SCCWG identified where the priority needs were.

“The primary objective of the team was to interact directly with the ‘street culture’ population in a friendly, non-judgmental manner, identify their immediate and short-term needs, and ensure that they are directed toward supports and stabilization services as quickly as possible,” said Park, earlier this year in a presentation to city council.

The secondary aim of the team was to support business owners who may be having difficulty dealing with some challenging behaviour associated with the street culture population.

“We wanted our team to help foster a new dialogue and culture of understanding, tolerance and respect,” said Park. “Unfortunately, poverty and homelessness are a major sign of the times we live in. These facts loom large in our community right now, and our small city is experiencing some big city issues.”

The SCCWG is now drawing upon other sources for its funding as well. To date, the group has raised 50 per cent of the required $100,000 to run the project and has several “strong” grant applications and requests in the works, including the IHA’s MHSU and CBT.

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