Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lower Mainland - Day Two Surrey

We spent today in BC's second largest city -- Surrey. We began in Whalley, a town centre in North Surrey which has become known for a very high concentration of street level homeless people and a serious and open drug culture.

The Front Room is an emergency shelter and drop in centre which has very low barriers. This means many people who use the emergency shelter are banned from other agencies and service providers because of behaviours which are judged to be unacceptable. We were reminded by Front Room service providers that it is vital to deal with homeless people as they are. If those who stay at the Front Room are going to get off the street, then their culture, life styles and behaviours need to be accepted in the first instance and worked with step by step to achieve change.

Phoenix Drug and Alcohol Centre is a new, well-resourced facility where important work is being done.

At Newton Advocacy Centre we were told of the enormous pressure counsellors work under to find adequate shelter for people when there often isn't any place for them to go. We also heard more about the ongoing supports necessary for homeless people to be successful once they do find a place to live.

Thanks to all of the hard working people we spoke with -- and especially to the homeless people who took time to tell us about their experiences.

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