An anti-poverty initiative is underway in the Fort.
A new society is being formed to coordinate hunger and homelessness reduction projects and programs, and while they don’t yet have a name, they do have some funds.
The first $135, in order to register the new not-for-profit society has been allocated for the group after a presentation at a recent council meeting.
Mayor Sandra Harwood and council decided to provide the grant-in-aid to get the society established.
In their presentation to council, the group also requested support from council on declaring a Hunger and Homelessness Week from October 10 to 16 in order to bring awareness to these issues.
According to Brandi Hanternman, she and other members of the prospective society have been discussing initiating this type of group for some time.
“The need has always kind of been there and it has never really been addressed or it has been addressed by small groups of people,” said Hanterman.
While Fireweed Collective Society and what was the Fort Alcohol and Drug Society did provide some types of support relating to hunger and homelessness, Fireweed has enough to focus on already and now Fort Alcohol and Drug Society is no longer really active after the changes to funding and program structure within Northern Health.
“We all know that there’s an issue, we all hear it from our clients and we see the impacts of it, but it’s not part of any one of our mandates,” said Hanterman. “It was basically we need to do this as a community.”
So while there are some efforts in the community already being done, the hope is the society can eventually establish the funding to hire a coordinator to bring together all of the different groups and initiatives and build on them.
There is currently a warm clothes drive in the winter, a Tuesday lunch program, a Thursday breakfast program, and a partial food bank, but the hope is to do even more for an increasing need in the community for food programs and also shelter.
“We’re all doing bits and pieces, it would be really nice if we could coordinate our efforts and have a larger impact,” said Hanterman.
The group would like to work together with other groups and has been in touch with the district and local First Nations bands, and potentially in the long-term provide a more full-time food bank and some sort of shelter as well as advocacy work.
There is also a potential for partnering with a program out of the University of Victoria, related to research being done on mining and sustainable communities already involving the local sustainability committee.
So far, the group has six people who have stepped forward to become directors, and a number of others who are willing to be involved in various capacities as well.
The next meeting for the hunger and homelessness society will be on September 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the Health Unit and anyone interested in getting involved can attend the meeting or get in touch with Brandi Hanterman at 250-996-8081.