The Nelson Street Culture Collaborative has hired three part-time outreach workers in a year-long pilot project to work with people living on the streets in Nelson. Their five person team will include two Selkirk College nursing students.
For the rest of this month they will be in orientation and training, according to Rona Park, executive director of the Nelson Community Services Society, which will administer the project. Park said they will also be visiting businesses and service organizations to introduce themselves.
“Then they will hit the streets in earnest in October,” Park says, adding that people should not expect instant miracles until the workers are trained and on the job for a while. The first few months will be an experiment, she said, in terms of their hours of work and the approach they take, and it will depend on the needs of the street population.
Park explained to the Star in July that the outreach workers will introduce themselves to the people who appear regularly on the street, get to know them, and offer non-threatening support and assessment, helping them to find what they need to get stabilized and supported. She said the workers will also get acquainted with downtown business people.
The outreach workers will also have to work out how they coordinate with local police. At a meeting for business people about the project last Thursday, Chief Paul Burkart of the Nelson Police Department, who is a member of the street culture collaborative group, said they will find a balance.
“If it is a safety issue, call the police. It will be a partnership. They will be called when we shouldn’t be. We will be called when they shouldn’t be.
“We don’t know how well it will work, the same as you didn’t know when you started your businesses,” Burkart said.
The three street outreach workers come from different but relevant backgrounds, Park says.
“Ryall Giuliano’s experience is working with youth on the streets and in homeless shelters in Summerland and in Guelph Ontario, helping youth get oriented and transitioned into adulthood. Jeremy Kelly is coming from his experience in Vancouver in the Downtown Eastside, working with volunteer organizations there. Bernadette White has volunteered a lot here in the community and knows the street culture population really well, just from personal experience.”
Responding to ‘those who rely on the street to survive’ October 15, 2015
Nelson Street Culture Collaborative starts to make inroads January 27, 2016
Nelson’s street people: who are they? (with video) March 25, 2016
Nelson street culture group makes eight recommendations April 6, 2016
City contributes $10,000 to street outreach project August 11, 2016
Street outreach workers hired September, 2016