Around 90 people came out to the first annual Homeless Connect event at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Thursday Oct. 11, during this year’s Homelessness Action Week.
More than 50 people received a kit of basic hygiene items, 23 people got haircuts and 20 received flu shots and HIV/Hep C screenings were completed, said Langley outreach worker Fraser Holland who helped organize the event.
Everyone who came out had something to eat and drink, met service providers and collected information on topics such as mental health, substance use services, housing, financial services (provincial, federal or budgeting/planning), medications or social connections amongst other programs.
“This event also provided service providers and volunteers the opportunity to network and to form stronger connections that will help us work together as a community,” said Holland. Around 30 service providers, faith-based community groups and volunteers were on hand for the Connect event.
The Connect event also aimed to broaden the vision of what homelessness is, said Holland.
“Homelessness isn’t just about what you can see at a glance. It’s more than the stereotypical images often connected to the term ‘homeless.’ Homelessness can be working individuals living in vehicles because they can’t afford rent. Homelessness is our youth sleeping in sheds, abandoned cars and on the couches and floors of family, friends and strangers in a time in their lives when they are expected to be developing the skills to last the rest of their lives.”
Holland said the day to Connect with Langley’s homeless also brought to light a few emerging problems locally, one being the aging homeless who are harder to help and house because they have multiple mental and physical issues and addictions.
The other issue facing Langley is the amount of youth on the verge of, or are homeless, said Holland.