Meals, resources and a film night are a few of the ways folks can participate in Homelessness Action Week in New West.
Homelessness Action Week – running from Oct. 8 to 16 – features a variety of in-person events for vulnerable folks, service providers and community members at large.
“There has been a lot of buzz in the community about HAW coming back in a way that more resembles pre-COVID times,” said Betina Wheeler, coalition and projects coordinator for the New Westminster Homelessness Coalition Society. “At the HAW kickoff event on Saturday at Holy Trinity, I recognized people in the brunch line from years gone past who expressed how happy they were that Connect Day was back. They were looking forward to breakfast, getting clothing from the clothing boutique, talking to service providers face to face and even getting a flu shot. One man said he had been coming for years and he couldn't wait.”
The kickoff event at Holy Trinity Cathedral included a brunch, giveaways, community resources and an opportunity to vote in the civic election.
Thanksgiving meals were once again part of Homelessness Action Week’s offerings, with Aunt Leah’s and Dan’s Legacy teaming up for a dinner for youth (aged 15 to 25) on Sunday. The Union Gospel Mission served 168 meals at the return of its in-person Thanksgiving meal on Monday – it’s first since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.
Tuesday marked the return of Connect Day at Holy Trinity Cathedral – a day where vulnerable members of the community were able to enjoy a burrito breakfast, get free clothing, get flu shots from public health nurses and access services provided by various community agencies.
“While the event today attracted less numbers than pre-COVID times, people were really happy to take advantage of what was being offered,” Wheeler said Tuesday. “For the service providers there, this was their first real opportunity to physically engage with their peers and community members in a long time, and they were really grateful for this opportunity.”
Throughout the week, various organizations are providing meals, as well as services such as haircuts, laundry services and a dental clinic.
Community members are invited to attend a free film night at Douglas College. Listening to Understand – Community Conversations around Homelessness and Housing Insecurity features a selection of short films/interviews with people experiencing homelessness, followed by a panel discussion with panellists with lived experience.
It’s happening on Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Room N2203 (enter from Agnes Street). Beverages and snacks will be served at a reception.
On Friday, Oct. 14, community members can learn about local resources and the city’s recently adopted Homelessness Action Strategy at Homelessness Action Week in Hyack Square. Drop by from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and join the Union Gospel Mission, Spirit of the Children Society, City of New Westminster staff, Community Action Network New Westminster leaders, and John Knox School students for coffee, hot food and snacks, giveaways, and live music.
The City of New Westminster proclaimed Oct. 8 to 16 as Homelessness Action Week.
The city’s proclamation noted the week provides an opportunity to: build local community support for solutions to homelessness by raising public awareness, decreasing stigma and increasing understanding of homelessness; engage local organizations who support those who are homeless or at risk; support increased access to programs, services and basic needs items; and develop social connections.
“The City of New Westminster is committed to addressing local homelessness issues, as reflected in the recent development of a homelessness action strategy for the City of New Westminster,” said the proclamation. “COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on those who are homeless; emphasized the need for more housing, housing supports and a wide verity of interconnected support services; and, has also placed many in our community more at risk of homelessness than ever before because of its financial impact.”