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Partnering to support unhoused individuals through winter

Partnering to support unhoused individuals through winter

The arrival of spring signals the end of the winter season of the Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Response (CCEWR). For Distress Centre, that means wrapping up our Coordinated Entry work at Journey Church and Parachutes for Pets.  

CCEWR is an initiative coordinated by the Calgary Homeless Foundation and the City of Calgary, in which various services across Calgary provide extra supports during extreme weather events. In the winter, this includes  warming stations, overnight shelters and daytime services to individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.  

Journey Church

Distress Centre partnered with Journey Church in NW Calgary for the second year, providing housing focused social support services. This included system navigation, resource referral, housing plans and access to supportive housing, and the site offered access to basic needs items like food, clothing and hygiene services, connecting to other community services and weekly access to community paramedic clinics, who provided medical services and medication refills.  

Over 100 people from the church and the community volunteered in the winter season. Volunteers help prepare food and hand out supplies.   

“The work we do here really depends on collaboration with a number of different agencies, as well as our staff at Distress Centre who work at other sites,” said Jacob, Team Lead for CCEWR at Distress Centre. “Our staff who are here at Journey Church are in contact almost daily with our team at SORCe. We’re so grateful to have such a broad team with such a diverse skill set who can come in and support in those moments that’s really needed.” 

Learn more about this collaboration in our latest video:

Distress Centre’s Coordinated Entry program provides a variety of services at the location of SORCe in downtown Calgary, including Coordinated Access and Assessment, system navigation with resourcing and referrals, identification replacement program, a communications hub and Financial Empowerment.   

From November 1, 2023 to March 12, 2024, Journey Church hosted 2643 visits from individuals seeking supports and shelter from the cold. This is an increase of 114.5% compared to Dec 1 to March 31st of last year. 632 unique individuals were served, an increase of 81%.  

“Our second year collaborating with Journey Church has been incredibly rewarding,” said Candice Giammarino, Director of Programs at SORCe for Distress Centre Calgary. “Together, we’ve expanded access to vital services, facilitated connections to housing and community supports, and provided an opportunity for access to healthcare with our amazing AHS partners. I’m deeply grateful for the dedication of the volunteers and the impressive dedicated work of our staff. This initiative highlights the immense power of community and partnership, and I’m excited for what the future holds.” 

Parachutes for Pets

This was the first year that we partnered with Parachutes for Pets, which offered a warming station from December 4, 2023 until February 23, 2024. Individuals with and without pets could warm up at Parachutes for Pets. Overnight care was available for pets, as well as pet food and supplies, social support and access to our Coordinated Entry program services 

1855 services were provided at Parachutes for Pets in that timeframe and 433 unique clients were served.  

Thank you to the partners, volunteers and staff who provided services at Journey Church and Parachutes for Pets over the last few months! These community partnerships and all the people involved allowed us to extend our reach to areas outside the city centre and help unhoused individuals through some of the toughest months of the year. We also want to recognize the unhoused individuals who accessed these services. This has been a challenging winter and we hope we were able to ease the burden of it.  

Though the work at these locations is ramping down for the winter season, supports can still be accessed on a walk-in basis at SORCe, located on the north side of the City Hall LRT platform.

In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, Distress Centre Calgary would like to honour and acknowledge Moh’kinsstis, and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations – Indigenous and non – who live, work and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.