Forward House and Island Crisis Care Society received $75,000 from the Community Action Initiative to implement the Oceanside Outreach Program from November 2018 to August 2019. Through this initiative, we provided two non-clinical Outreach Workers, several Peer Support Workers, community education around mental health and addiction, and harm reduction supports. We are so thankful to have been able to offer responsive and preventative action at a time when mental health and addiction issues are so prevalent in our province.
Our Outreach Workers Kevin, Christine and Cathy were out and about in the community seven days a week to help individuals connect with services and resources, and, with the help of several Peer Support Workers, provided support and encouragement as needed.
In March, our team planned and implemented the first community education session which provided important information and answered questions our community had around mental health and addiction. The “Taking Community to Heart: One Journey at a Time” presentation took place at Knox United Church with 30 participants. We heard the inspiring story of a resident who struggled with addiction and then homelessness, and who is now housed and thriving in our community due to the care and compassion of many community organizations and individuals. In the summer we held two “Community Cares” sessions on August 27th at St Stephen’s Church in Qualicum Beach and August 28th at Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church. These sessions were a celebration of the work done by our team while also addressing questions around harm reduction and Opioid Agonist Therapy treatment offered in Oceanside.
In August 2019, we were excited to launch a series of videos where we highlighted accomplishments of this project, discussed the importance of harm reduction strategies and heard success stories from community members. We hope that these videos will be widely distributed through social media and other means.
Throughout the project, our team worked closely with the Oceanside Harm Reduction Committee and the Housing Outreach Support Team (HOST) to support local harm reduction strategies and access to supportive housing. We helped individuals to apply for supportive housing in Orca Place and then continued working with them as they prepared for this life-changing transition.
Our Outreach Planning Committee consisted of local physicians, nurses, clinical Mental Health Workers, local service providers, and people with lived experience. Together, we have been committed to creating a comprehensive network of service providers where barriers to service are minimized. Thanks to everyone who has stepped up to make a difference in our community!
A very big thanks to the Community Action Initiative, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and the Overdose Emergency Response Centre for their financial support, which has made this project possible. Thanks also to the Oceanside Harm Reduction Committee for additional financial support.