A social innovation project focused on homelessness in rural British Columbia is gaining momentum with increasing support from across the region.
“Bridging Rural Homelessness and Well-being: A Sustainable and Collaborative Regional Response,” is a project being undertaken by a team at Selkirk College and has more than 20 community partners so far.
The project brings together diverse organizations and perspectives to collaborate for the overall aim to improve the well-being of those experiencing, or at risk of homelessness, in the communities of Castlegar, Nelson and Trail.
The innovative regional collaboration will help transfer lessons, avoid duplication, make best use of limited resources and experiment with regional solutions as conditions evolve.
Kootenay Savings Credit Union is one of the community supporters and has contributed $15,000 to the regional project.
“Kootenay Savings is proud and excited to partner with Selkirk College on this regional homelessness response initiative,” says Mark McLoughlin, CEO of Kootenay Saving Credit Union. “As a credit union, we strive to be relevant, resilient, and sustainable, and we want the same for the people in our communities. This regional project is an important step to better support our most vulnerable.”
The project also builds regional capacity by engaging Selkirk College students and faculty from across programs to help fill specific gaps while also giving students work-integrated learning experiences.
For example, an Integrated Environmental Planning Program student is presently building an asset map exploring how services and resources for people experiencing homelessness are distributed across the region.
Additionally, this summer, two Selkirk College Nursing Program students will get paid internships to do street outreach throughout Castlegar, Trail and Nelson, filling an important need in the region.
“Homelessness is a complex issue with so many variables that can make it a challenge to solve,” says Jayme Jones, Selkirk College researcher and project director. “However, we have so much expertise in our region, especially those people who have lived or living experience of homelessness, who have great ideas for how to make things better. When we bring diverse perspectives and resources together, we create the conditions to make it possible to find solutions to homelessness that work in our specific rural context. This project aims to do that.”
A West Kootenay Homelessness Response Summit is planned for Tuesday, May 16 in Castlegar. For more information on the project and summit, including a sign-up for occasional project updates, visit selkirk.ca and search “homelessness.”
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